UPDATE 5/26/11 @ 10:45 a.m.
CHARLESTON, W.Va. (WSAZ) -- Two men were sentenced Wednesday in federal court for their roles in a counterfeiting scheme in Roane County, W.Va.
According to the U.S. Attorney's Office, Roger L. Atkinson II, 32, of Ripley, was sentenced to eight months in prison for his role in the conspiracy.
Atkinson went on trial for the scheme in February. The trial revealed that while at the Spencer Livestock Market in Roane County, Atkinson asked a friend for change for a counterfeit fifty dollar bill. When the person tried to spend the fifty several days later at a local convenience store, it was rejected and deemed counterfeit. Further evidence revealed that Atkinson was involved in a broader counterfeit scheme that spread fake bills through Spencer and other areas to support his drug habit. The jury returned guilty verdicts on two counts of an indictment that found that Atkinson conspire with Lawrence Holbrook to manufacture and pass counterfeit money and that Atkinson did, in fact, pass counterfeit money.
Lawrence "BJ" Holbrook, 36, of Spencer, was sentenced Wednesday to four months in prison for the scheme. Court records show he pleaded guilty in January.
According to a press release, in February 2009, Holbrook gave an associate four counterfeit $10 bills to buy illegal prescription drugs.
U.S. Attorney Booth Goodwin said, "Counterfeiting strikes at the heart of the country's financial system. It does particular damage to small businesses, many of which simply cannot afford the losses they suffer when they are passed fake money. Small business owners like the victims in this case are the backbone of our economy, and my office will continue its commitment to aggressively prosecute criminals who defraud them."
This case is part of the ongoing efforts of the United States Attorney's Office to prosecute crimes against small businesses. In September 2010, U.S. Attorney Goodwin created and launched a comprehensive plan to protect small businesses and nonprofit agencies from fraud and abuse. Goodwin has redoubled efforts to identify, investigate and prosecute dishonest employees and other criminals who defraud or embezzle from small businesses.
The Crimes Against Small Business Initiative strives to protect businesses and nonprofit organizations by working in partnership with the business community, along with state and local law enforcement officials, to ensure that occurrences of fraud, embezzlement, scams and other crimes targeting small businesses are prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law.
The United States Secret Service conducted the investigation. Assistant United States Attorneys Thomas Ryan and Steve Ruby handled the prosecution.
On Thursday, after a three day trail, the jury found that Roger Atkinson II, 36, of Spencer, conspired to possess, manufacture and pass counterfeited currency near Spencer.
Federal prosecutors say Atkinson gave a counterfeit $50 bill to an associate at the Spencer Livestock Market in Roane County.
They also say Atkinson was involved in a counterfeiting scheme that spread fake bills through Spencer and elsewhere, partly in an effort to support a drug habit.
The jury returned guilty verdicts on two counts of the indictment finding that Atkinson conspired with Lawrence E. Holbrook, to manufacture and pass counterfeit money, and that Atkinson did in fact pass a counterfeit $50 bill.
Holbrook previously pleaded guilty to his role in the counterfeit scheme.
Both men are scheduled to be sentenced in May.