Sheriff: Clearwater Man Charged in Counterfeit Money Scheme
The man and his alleged accomplice from California have been charged in an "elaborate" money laundering scheme involving fake $100 bills passed at Home Depots and Walmarts around Florida, officials said Monday.
A Clearwater man and his alleged accomplice have been arrested after authorities say they produced and passed about $100,000 in counterfeit bills at retailers such as Home Depot, Lowes, Macy's and Walmart in 16 counties around Florida.
Christopher William DiPasquale, 46, of Clearwater, and Robert Stanley Kowalczyk, 35, of California, have been charged in the alleged "elaborate" money laundering scheme, the Pinellas County Sheriff's Office reported Monday.
Authorities discovered that DiPasquale had been allegedly bleaching $1 bills and printing over them to convert them into $100 bills at his Bay Shore Way home. According to investigators, he would then purchase items at stores with the counterfeit bills, then later systematically return them at other stores in exchange for real money.
Among the items purchased at one store – then exchanged at another – were a water filter, Chewy candy, chlorine tablets and a Cobalt (sic) tool set.
Detectives say DiPasquale's scheme stretched across the state from Jacksonville to Miami-Dade and occurred over a period of about two years.
Investigators also learned Kowalczyk had been running a similar operation in California for about four years that was linked to DiPasquale's.
Kowalczyk traveled from California to Florida on March 3 "for the purpose of manufacturing and distributing additional counterfeit currency throughout the state of Florida," authorities said.
He was arrested the next day at DiPasquale's home and found to be in possession of "41 washed US treasury notes, a laptop computer, storage drives and additional counterfeiting tools."
DiPasquale was arrested last month after authorities executed a search warrant at his home and found sale receipts and counterfeit bills. He was initially charged with dealing in stolen property and uttering forged bills and released on bond, then arrested again March 7 and charged with money laundering.
Kowalczyk is charged with money laundering, bringing counterfeit notes into the states, possession of instruments for counterfeiting bills and possession of methamphetamine.
An investigation was opened in November 2012 after some of the counterfeit bills had been passed locally, authorities said. Local law enforcement worked with the United States Secret Service and the Florida Office of the Attorney General.
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