U.S. Attorney’s Office
Western District of New York
(716) 843-5700
November 14, 2014

Queens Woman Sentenced for Possession of Counterfeit $100 Bills

ROCHESTER, NY—U.S. Attorney William J. Hochul, Jr. announced today that Michele Sergeant, 31, of Queens, NY, who was convicted of possession of counterfeit bank notes, was sentenced to 18 months in prison by U.S. District Court Judge Frank P. Geraci. The defendant was also ordered to pay $44,700 in restitution.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Craig R. Gestring, who handled the case, stated that on September 22, 2013, New York State Troopers stopped a vehicle on Interstate 390 in the town of Wayland in Steuben County for going 102 mph in a 65 mph zone. Inside the vehicle, troopers found the defendant and her co-defendant, along with a small quantity of marijuana. Troopers located $8,700 in $100 bank notes inside the car along with a financial ledger book. Inside the ledger were columns which showed dollar amounts and abbreviations for retail locations. The New York State Police contacted the United States Secret Service for investigative assistance.

Secret Service Agents determined that 87 of the $100 bills recovered were actually sophisticated counterfeit bills, complete with water marks, color shifting ink, and embedded security strips. They further determined that the ledger notations were references to stores at which they passed counterfeit currency and included Home Depot, Lowes, Target, and Wal-Mart stores. As part of the investigation, Secret Service Agents reviewed store surveillance video from the dates and times of the transactions listed in the ledger. The defendant was identified on video at several area stores passing counterfeit $100 bank notes. Subsequent investigation determined that Sergeant had passed thousands of dollars’ worth of counterfeit $100 bank notes within the Western District of New York. At the time the defendant passed the counterfeit bills here, she was on release for similar conduct in the State of Massachusetts.

As part of the investigation, Secret Service Agents learned that Sergeant was identified passing counterfeit $100 bank notes in New York and several other states. The defendant and her co-defendant, who was also sentenced to federal prison back in July, passed counterfeit $100 bills throughout the Western District of New York, including Buffalo, Rochester, and all the way down to the Southern Tier. They were also identified passing counterfeit $100 bank notes in Ohio; Massachusetts; Michigan; and Arkansas. The total loss due to the defendant’s actions was over $65,000.

The sentencing is the culmination of an investigation on the part of Special Agents of the United States Secret Service, under the direction of Acting Special Agent in Charge, Michael Adelizzio, and Investigators and Troopers of the New York State Police, under the direction of Superintendent Joseph A. D’Amico.

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