A scheme in which 82 businesses in Billings and Great Falls got stuck with fake $100 bills made in Peru will cost a man more than a year in federal prison.
Chief U.S. District Judge Richard Cebull on Thursday sentenced Victor Raul Andia, 24, an illegal alien from Peru, to 14 months in prison, which was the top of the guideline range. He also ordered Andia to be transferred to immigration officials for deportation after completing his sentence. Cebull further ordered $100 restitution to a Subway business in Great Falls and left open the possibility of restitution to other victims who might seek a claim.
Andia pleaded guilty in March to counterfeiting and conspiracy to pass counterfeit currency.
An investigation by the Secret Service found that Andia was part of a larger group responsible for passing a fake note known as “C-22705.” The note is made in Peru and about $7.8 million of the fake money has circulated across the country in the past year, the agency said. About $25,000 to $50,000 of the C-22705 note is passed every week in the United States.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Ryan Archer said Andia and a co-defendant, who has pleaded not guilty, passed $13,600 in fake $100 bills at 82 businesses in Great Falls and Billings in three days in March 2009. Andia was arrested in Southern California and was identified through surveillance photos and other photo identification.
Assistant Federal Defender Mark Werner asked for a time-served sentence of about nine months, saying Andia was not a major player and got recruited into the activity by his family.