Friday, 31 March 2023

Counterfeiters busted at Hopland casino

HOPLAND — Two counterfeiters were caught red-handed feeding fake $100 bills into slot machines at Hopland's Sho-Ka-Wah Casino on Thursday.

California Attorney General Jerry Brown announced that his office's Division of Gambling Control arrested Jack Daniels Ewing, 27, of Las Vegas, Nev., and Mikael Inturbe, 27, of Hercules on charges of conspiracy, counterfeiting and burglary.

Brown's office reported that the arrests followed a four-month investigation, which revealed that the two-man team was bleaching real $1 bills and using home printers to make counterfeit $100 bills. The counterfeiters bilked at least 20 casinos in Northern California and Nevada out of more than $100,000.

The names of other casinos that were hit by the counterfeiters were not released.

“These two bandits used home printers to make fake bills that tricked casino slot machines into paying out more than $100,000,” said Brown. “Our Division of Gambling Control demonstrated great skill and incredible ingenuity in catching and arresting these counterfeiters.”

While under surveillance, the suspects were observed passing off large quantities of counterfeit “old style” $100 bills through the bill validators of gaming machines at Northern California and Nevada casinos, the Attorney General's Office reported. The suspects demonstrated familiarity with the security features of the bill validators and were proficient at avoiding detection.

In most cases the suspects fed bills into the machine, cashed out and left the casino, according to the Attorney General's Office. Occasionally, the suspects used the fake bills to play the slot machines, sometimes winning up to $4000.

The suspects leased rental cars from a variety of Bay Area rental car companies in an effort to evade authorities, the Attorney General's Office reported. They also employed the services of third-party associates to rent the vehicles on their behalf.

The suspects were known to wear a variety of baseball-style caps from different sports teams, a trademark disguise that used as they moved from casino to casino, Brown's office reported.

During a raid of an extended stay hotel in Richmond, where one of the suspects was residing, the Attorney General's Office reported its investigators found two printers, a scanner, rubber gloves, chemical bleaching solutions, a stack of bleached bills and a pile of baseball caps.

The California Department of Justice joined the Mendocino County Sheriff’s Department in apprehending the suspects Thursday at Sho-Ka-Wah Casino.

Inturbe, according to the Attorney General's Office report, has prior counterfeiting and homicide convictions.

Ewing and Inturbe each are being held on $300,000 bail.

According to FBI statistics, there are approximately 100,000 forgery and counterfeiting charges filed in the United States annually.

The Division of Gambling Control’s investigation into this case remains active and ongoing.


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