A Russian citizen and his Bulgarian companion face a March 21 sentencing in Utah federal court on their convictions of passing $120 in counterfeit bills and possession of nearly $4,000 in bogus money.
A Utah federal jury convicted Ivan Georgiev and Hristo Hristov, both of Los Angeles, of passing a bogus $20 and $50 bill at Duane's Food Town in Fillmore on Nov. 30, and passing another phony $50 bill on the same day at the Mount Nebo Food Town market in Nephi, prosecutors said Monday.In addition, the pair, arrested that day by a Juab County deputy sheriff, was convicted of possession of $3,980 in counterfeit $20, $50 and $100 bills.
Georgiev, a Russian citizen, and Hristov, a Bulgarian deacon in the Greek Orthodox Church and an opera singer, also were found guilty of possession of a small amount of cocaine.
Hristov told the jury Georgiev found the bogus money in a rag at a junk yard in Los Angeles. But he said he could not remember the address.
The pair did not tell authorities about the discovered bills, Hristov said, "because it is not easy for us to explain" since they have difficulty speaking and understanding English.
"If I knew this was counterfeit money, I would never spend it," he testified.
The cocaine also was found, Hristov testified, but in the trunk of a borrowed car.
"I saw a plastic bag. It was open to see what was there," he said. "I wasn't sure it was coke so I put it in this empty box of cigarettes."