The U.S. Secret Service’s continuing multi-jurisdictional
investigation into the sale of counterfeit United States coins is
widening, with incidents reported by local law enforcement agencies in
at least 12 states.
In one of the most recent incidents, in Amherst, N.Y., a suburb of
Buffalo, one of two men arrested and charged March 27 with allegedly
peddling counterfeit Seated Liberty, Morgan and Peace dollars at a
local jewelry store had been released from federal custody in New
Jersey in 2011 on charges from four different states for allegedly
doing the same thing.
Kim Baglio, a special agent for the Secret Service in Buffalo and
the lead investigator in that office for probes into the counterfeit
coin sales, confirmed April 2 the agency is working with local law
enforcement on a number of cases. She said she could not disclose how
many different incidents or New York jurisdictions are involved.
Jim Mottola, assistant special agent in charge of the Secret
Service’s Newark Office based in Morristown, N.J., said April 2
federal authorities there are working to coordinate federal and local
investigative efforts involving the counterfeit coin sales.
Mottola said efforts are also being coordinated within the Secret Service.
Secret Service officials indicate those involved in the alleged
sales of counterfeit coins face possible multiple federal charges in
addition to local charges.
On March 27, 2012, Brian Jenkins, 53, from Irvington, N.J., was
arrested and charged by Amherst police with criminal possession of
forged instruments and traffic violations. Jenkins also faces charges
in at least six states involving counterfeit coins, according to
Amherst Police Detective Herbert B. Leising Jr.
His co-defendant in the latest case, Thomas Hill, 54, of Orange,
N.J., was charged with criminal possession of forged instruments,
Jenkins and Hill were both returned to the Erie County Holding
Center in Buffalo after their charges were bound over for grand jury
action following an April 3 appearance before Amherst Town Court
Justice Mark Farrell.
The owner of the Amherst jewelry store at which Jenkins and Hill
both allegedly attempted to sell counterfeit Seated Liberty, Morgan
and Peace dollars for $10 each at around 1:30 p.m. March 27, turned
down their offer, Leising said. As Jenkins and Hill drove away, the
jewelry store owner took down the license plate number of the rental
car in which they were riding and alerted authorities, Leising said.
Jenkins and Hill were arrested a short time later. A search of
their rented 2012 Cadillac SRX revealed more than 200 counterfeit
silver dollars, many of them bearing the CC Mint mark for the Carson
City Mint. Also found in the vehicle were counterfeit gold jewelry and
100 counterfeit gold Kingdom of Saudi Arabia commemorative medals.
Genuine Saudi medals in 22-karat gold were issued in 1975 as a
memorial to the late King Faisal. The genuine medals are stamped in
the field on the reverse attesting to the purity of gold in each
medal. The medals seized in the possession of Jenkins and Hill do not
bear the stamp.
Leising said Jenkins claimed to have obtained the seized items
somewhere on Canal Street in New York City.
Leising said investigators are finding that those involved in the
sale of the counterfeit U.S. coins are mostly traveling using rental
cars. They use Global Positioning System and smart phone navigation to
search jewelry and pawn stores in an area. They seem to target
smaller, less knowledgeable businesses where the employees likely will
not test the authenticity of the metal or authenticity of the coins
before purchasing the counterfeit items, Leising said.
“Upon initial contact with the intended jeweler or merchant to be
scammed, the suspect presents a real coin for initial inspection,”
Leising said. “Then when it appears a sale is likely to be made, the
suspect on several occasions pulled out a binder with around 200
additional counterfeit silver dollars.
“With incidents involving gold jewelry or scrap, the suspect
presents the items as being 24K items, but [pieces] actually are in
part lesser pure gold, like 14K or less, and some of the items may not
even be gold at all.
“The suspects appear to be looking for merchants who will not
know, or have the ability to properly test the metals the suspects are
trying to sell.”
Leising can be reached by phone at 716-689-1340 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Coin World reported in its Aug. 22, 2011, issue that
Jenkins was arrested July 21, 2011, in the attic of a North Brunswick
Township, N.J., structure under outstanding warrants served by the New
York/New Jersey Fugitive Task Force. The task force comprises
investigators from federal, state and local law enforcement.
Jenkins, who authorities indicate has an extensive criminal
record, had warrants for his arrest from police in North Brunswick
Township, N.J.; Fredericksburg, Va.; Annapolis, Md.; and Fort Myers,
Fla. The New Jersey warrant had a $50,000 bond requirement, while the
other three warrants contained no-bail provisions.
Despite the no-bail provisions, Jenkins was released on $50,000
bond in early August, according to a spokesman for the Middlesex
County Jail in North Brunswick Township, N.J. The spokesman said
Jenkins has kept court appearances in New Jersey, Maryland, and
Florida, as well as an undisclosed jurisdiction in Ohio.
A Pennsylvania man, Daniel Figueroa, 39, who was arrested in New
Jersey subsequent to Jenkins’ detainment, also posted bond on charges
of theft by deception and conspiracy. It was not learned in how many
incidents and jurisdictions Figueroa is alleged to be involved.
At the time of Jenkins’ July 21, 2011, arrest in New Jersey,
investigations involving Jenkins and the alleged sale of counterfeit
U.S. silver dollars were active in eight states — Alabama, Maryland,
Virginia, West Virginia, Florida, Tennessee, Ohio and New Jersey. New
York brings the known total to nine.
Investigations are also being conducted by local and federal law
enforcement in Massachusetts, New Hampshire and Connecticut that may
or may not involve Jenkins. ■