The U.S. Secret Service is putting the squeeze on four men linked to the passing of a phony $20 bill at a children’s lemonade stand in Spokane last summer.
The counterfeiters also passed 148 other bogus bills - for everything from tacos to auto supplies.
Secret Service agents said the bills, ranging from $5 to $50 denominations, are of poor quality.
“The ink runs when you get one of them wet,” one agent said.
The bills were printed with computer equipment, which is the latest trend in counterfeiting, agents said.
Investigators said members of the counterfeiting ring also may be tied to the use and sale of methamphetamine.
The four men are accused of counterfeiting crimes in a six-count federal indictment returned last month by a grand jury.
One of the defendants, Timothy Ray Candler, admitted in U.S. District Court on Thursday that he was part of the conspiracy to pass the phony money.
Candler specifically was accused of attempting to pass a counterfeit $50 bill at Eagle Hardware, 5204 E. Sprague, on July 29.
He admitted his guilt but gave no explanation in court. Candler said he suffers from Crohn’s disease and lives on disability checks.
Co-defendant Donald J. Lawson, 26, is accused of passing another $50 bill that same day at the hardware store, court documents say.
The other defendants are Kenneth Goodhope, 25, and Jeffrey S. Franks, 36, also known as Randy Scott Hay.
Lawson is accused in a separate indictment of possession with intent to distribute methamphetamine.
Goodhope and Lawson are scheduled to stand trial Oct. 27. Franks now is an inmate at the Idaho State Penitentiary, awaiting extradition to Spokane.
“This conspiracy included a $20 bill which was passed at a lemonade stand operated by children,” Assistant U.S. Attorney Tim Ohms told Judge Frem Nielsen.
Secret Service agents did not specifically identify the suspects who bought the lemonade with the phony money, but know the $20 bill was from the same printing operation.
The children’s parents identified the bill as counterfeit and turned it over to Secret Service agents.
As part of a plea bargain, Ohms said, the government will seek dismissal of three other counts against Candler.
Instead of several years in prison, Candler faces only 30 days in jail and probation if the judge follows the plea bargain recommendation.
Candler also will be responsible for $3,085 in restitution, including the lemonade stand loss, which will be paid jointly by those convicted, Ohms said.
The 37-year-old Spokane man also was charged with passing counterfeit money; making the bills and conspiring to manufacture the Federal Reserve notes.
“I don’t have any idea of the actual number of notes that were manufactured,” Candler told the judge after entering the guilty plea.