Fairbanks men face prison in case involving fake drugs and money

Posted: Friday, April 05, 2002

FAIRBANKS (AP) -- Two Fairbanks men tried to take revenge on a drug dealer who sold them breath mints they thought was $2,000 worth of the drug Ecstasy, a prosecutor said during a change of plea hearing for the pair this week.

Kelsey Hough, 19, and Sean Herring, 19, face up to 15 years in prison for trying to buy methamphetamines from Steve Hartman with $4,700 in counterfeit money they made on a personal computer, said prosecutor Joe Bottini, an assistant U.S. attorney from Anchorage.

''Basically what they did was scan in a $100 bill image to the hard drive and experiment with different types of paper,'' Bottini said after the change of plea proceedings Tuesday in Fairbanks. ''They came up with a batch they ultimately tried to pass off.''

In closed proceedings in U.S. District Court, Herring and Hough changed their plea from innocent to guilty on charges they made more than 40 counterfeit $100 bills in February 2001, the Fairbanks Daily News-Miner reported.

Hartman, 25, had also been charged in the case. In an open hearing earlier, he changed his plea from innocent to guilty for knowingly using the fake bills.

The three were indicted Dec. 19 but were not in custody. They will be sentenced June 20.

Herring was facing three charges, one for his part in making the fake bills, another for knowing they were counterfeit but trying to pass them off to Hartman, and one for passing one of the bills at the North Pole McDonald's restaurant.

Hough was charged with making the phony money and giving it to Hartman, and for duping the drug dealer while trying to buy methamphetamines.

Hough and Herring pleaded guilty to making the money. The other charges were dropped. Bottini would not discuss whether an agreement had been reached with Herring and Hough or what had happened during the sealed proceedings.

Authorities said that after Hough gave Hartman money for the methamphetamines, Hartman took the bills to his supplier to get the drugs. The supplier told Hartman the money was fake, Bottini said.

''When that happened, he (Hartman) had an unpleasant experience. He had a gun put to his head by the source of methamphetamines,'' Bottini said.

Hartman originally protested Bottini's outline of the money exchange for drugs, calling them ''trumped up'' accusations. But after briefly talking to defense attorney Sue Ellen Tatter, he agreed the government's account of events was correct.

Authorities launched an investigation after the counterfeit $100 bills began surfacing more than a year ago.

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