Two partners in a Salt Lake printing firm were sentenced to prison Thursday for printing $3.75 million in counterfeit bills.
U.S. District Judge Bruce Jenkins sentenced William A. Schraegle to three years in prison and his partner, Ronald P. Miller, to 33 months. Both must also pay a $5,000 fine.The two had faced maximum sentences of 51 months in prison.
Instead of the 47 initial charges brought against them, the men pleaded guilty on March 23 to three counts each: conspiracy, manufacturing a plate for the counterfeit bills and printing $20, $50 and $100 bills.
Dennis Crandall, resident agent in charge of the Salt Lake branch of the Secret Service, said the Treasury Department characterizes the counterfeit bills as above average in quality.
"This concludes a yearlong investigation by the Secret Service. It is not Utah's largest seizure but a sizable one," Crandall said. The $3.75 million is not a loss to the government or agencies but to the public, since the victims are organizations receiving the bogus money, he said.
About $5 million was actually created, but some of the bogus bills were printed only on one side. Sentencing guidelines are based on the quantity of money involved, and the men's prison sentences were based only on the $3.75 million in passable bills.
U.S. Attorney Dave Jordan said he was satisfied with the sentence.
Schraegle, 38, said in court he did not print the bogus bills for money or power but because of the excitement of seeing if they could do it. But at least six of the bills have been passed into the community, turning up at Food 4 Less, Utah Power, Kmart and several First Security Bank branches.
Jordan indicated the investigation is ongoing with respect to the passing of bills, but he declined to comment further as to whether others were involved.
Employees of Graphic Reproductions Inc., 21 S. 400 West, informed the Secret Service on July 11, 1991, that they were suspicious of papered windows and green and black ink in the printer when they arrived at work in the morning.
Within four days, the Secret Service interviewed Schraegle and Miller and informed them they were under investigation; however, Miller's attorney said on July 18 that the Secret Service had not discovered any tangible evidence of the crime.
Schraegle and Miller then turned themselves in as well as the counterfeit bills, a major factor Jenkins considered when giving the men a reduced sentence, Jordan said. Much of the money is still in an uncut form.
Schraegle's attorney, Ron Yengich, said turning counterfeit money over is unusual in most cases, and Sam Olsen of the U.S. attorney's office said he is positive that if the men hadn't turned over the money, the Secret Service wouldn't have found it.
"One of the genuinely important things in a free economy is the integrity of our currency system. When we have something like this, we lose credibility," Jenkins said in court. It is particularly serious for someone highly skilled in the matter, he added. "One thing that always bothers me is why a person with a high school education and favored opportunity got involved in something like this."
Jenkins said Miller, 33, was given a lesser sentence than Schraegle because of his age and education level.
Although the counterfeit bills appeared fairly authentic, Crandall said they were missing red and blue fibers. But typical victims would not recognize the difference.
Crandall said he did not know of a law that would preclude the men from practicing the graphics/-printing profession when they are released from prison.