Nearly six weeks after Secret Service agents seized $5.8 million in counterfeit bills from a South Salt Lake print shop, the federal government has charged the two shop owners with 47 counts of making counterfeit money and conspiring to make counterfeit money.
A federal grand jury has handed up indictments against William A. Schraegle, 38, and Ronald P. Miller, 33. The two men have not been taken into custody."They have agreed to surrender themselves, but the date hasn't been set yet," said assistant U.S. attorney Stanley H. Olsen.
In addition to the charges of printing the phony money, the men have also been charged with passing six of the counterfeit bills. The men earlier told authorities and the media that they only made the bogus bills as a professional challenge, with no plans to actually use the money.
Agents were dubious from the beginning. "I can't see how they would spend thousands of dollars in paper and film and plates . . . on a lark to prove that they could do it," said Secret Service Agent Steve Zimney.
The grand jury evidently felt the same way. The jury indicted the men for passing a bogus $50 at the K mart on Parleys Way on Aug. 2, the day before the money was seized by federal agents.
The two men are also accused of passing a counterfeit $20 to Utah Power & Light on Aug. 29 and handing clerks a phony $100 at Food 4 Less, 1500 W. 3500 South, on July 29.
More of the fake funds could still be out there. "There isn't any way currently to know," Olsen said. "I wouldn't want to speculate."
Investigators are certain, however, that the 23 counterfeit $100 bills that turned up at Fashion Place Mall over the Labor Day weekend are not part of the South Salt Lake operation.
Secret Service agents have concluded those bills were made in a Colombian printing plant raided by the U.S. government in May.
The maximum penalty for each of the 47 counts is 15 years in prison and a fine of $250,000.