Three Akron men are going to prison for using more than $38,000 in counterfeit $100 bills to buy iPads, Apple watches and other items at stores such as Target, Best Buy and Dick’s Sporting Goods over a one-year period ending in April 2018.
Tori Smith, 35, received a nearly five-year sentence last week. Allyn Bell, 32, was sentenced Monday to three years. Robert Peters, 31, also of Akron, is scheduled to be sentenced later this year, according to a new release from the U.S. Attorney's Office for the Northern District of Ohio.
All three previously pleaded guilty to the federal crime of conspiracy to “pass or utter counterfeit obligations or securities,” according to the release.
“These defendants were part of a ring that passed over $38,000 in counterfeit currency in Northeast Ohio and multiple other states,” Jonathan E. Schuck, special agent in charge of the U.S. Secret Service’s Cleveland office, said in the news release.
“They used counterfeit money to purchase not only merchandise like electronics and clothes but also paid for gas, food and hotel rooms with counterfeit currency, taking advantage of local businesses. This was a complex case that could not have been solved without the assistance from many other local and state police departments,” Schuck said.
Smith, Bell and Peters conspired together between April 2017 and April 2018 to pass counterfeit $100 bills to purchase items that they sometimes returned to obtain cash. They traveled together to stores in Pennsylvania, Michigan and Ohio.
The defendants together made more than 20 such purchases as part of the conspiracy, according to federal court documents.
For example, on April 6, 2017, Bell passed four counterfeit $100 bills to an employee at a Dick’s Sporting Goods in Butler, Pennsylvania, to purchase items.
Two days later, Bell traveled to the Dicks's Sporting Goods store in Mentor and returned the items he purchased for cash, according to court documents.
On April 27, 2017, Peters passed seven counterfeit $100 bills to employees at the Kohl’s in State College, Pennsylvania, to purchase two Citizen watches. The next day, Peters returned one of the watches for about $410 at the Kohl’s in Macedonia, according to the the indictment.
The case was investigated by the United States Secret Service and prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Ranya Elzein.