Daily Independent (Ashland, KY)

February 4, 2013

2 charged in counterfeiting scheme to plead guilty

Women accused of going on multi-state shopping spree

Kenneth Hart
The Independent

ASHLAND — Two of three women accused of going on a multi-state shopping spree with bogus $100 bills have agreed to plead guilty.

Attorneys representing Chantal Campbell and Tierah O’Neal have filed motions in U.S. District Court requesting their clients be re-arraigned so they can changes their pleas from not guilty to guilty.

Campbell’s re-arraignment is set for Monday. O’Neal’s hadn’t been set as of Monday.

Trial for the third defendant, Ashley-Monet Walcott, is scheduled for March 11, assuming she, too, doesn’t opt to plead guilty before then.

Campbell, 20, of Kingston, N.C.; O’Neal, 21, of Newark, Del.; and Walcott, whose age and address were not immediately available, all were indicted in November for allegedly engaging in a counterfeiting scheme that affected businesses in Kentucky and in other states. All three were charged with passing counterfeit currency and conspiracy to pass counterfeit currency.

According to the indictment, the three engaged in a conspiracy to use counterfeit $100 bills to purchase items from various retailers, then return those items and exchange them for legitimate currency, and to use the bogus notes to send wire transfers via Western Union.

Campbell acquired an unknown number of fake bills, each in the denomination of $100, and O’Neal rented a car to drive herself and her co-defendants to various locations in different states to pass the notes, the indictment states. The trio traveled from either New York or Delaware to Kentucky, stopping at numerous retailers to pass the bills along the way.

The bills were used to purchase mainly electronic items, including Apple iPads, digital cameras, video games and other devices. Retailers that were victimized included, but were not limited to, Staples, Home Depot, Target, Walmart, Kroger and Kmart.

The trio also allegedly used the fake bills to make wire transfers at various Western Union locations. The person on the receiving end of the transfer would receive genuine currency, causing a loss to Western Union, the indictment states.

On March 5, the three went to the Morehead Walmart, where they allegedly passed 30 of the phony $100 bills, according to the indictment. That same day, Campbell returned an iPod that had been purchased with the fake money and received $300 in real currency.

Also on March 5, the three allegedly made a wire transfer with bogus bills from the Western Union in the Morehead Kroger.

The defendants each face up to 20 years in prison. However, application of federal sentencing guidelines would likely result in them receiving far lesser sentences.

KENNETH HART can be reached at khart@dailyindependent.com or (606) 326-2654.