Couple charged for counterfeitingPublished 2:34pm Thursday, June 23, 2011
Federal charges likely coming
The Albert Lea couple arrested this week as part of an alleged counterfeit ring was charged Thursday in Freeborn County District Court with manufacturing counterfeit U.S. currency, but they could potentially face stiffer charges, too.
Assistant Freeborn County Attorney David Walker said the U.S. Attorney’s Office has shown an interest in prosecuting the case and he anticipates a federal indictment soon. He noted he did not know if the state charges would be dropped if this were the case.
Travis Cameron, 31, and Heather Cameron, 34, face charges for their alleged involvement with a group operating a scheme of manufacturing, passing and dealing counterfeit money in southern Minnesota, including the cities of Faribault, Owatonna, Albert Lea, Mankato, Northfield, Dundas, Austin, Eagan and Burnsville.
The operation allegedly involved washing mainly $5 bills and turning them into $100 bills. The $5 bills would be sprayed with a solvent — in this case, an oven cleaner. Then, an image of the digitally scanned $100 authentic bills would be printed onto the washed bills.
The counterfeit $100 bills would come back as a false positive when tested with a counterfeit pen.
Court documents state the Camerons and others allegedly involved would make small-dollar purchases at various retail businesses with the counterfeit bills in exchange for large amounts of change in genuine currency.
According to court records, Heather Cameron was also arrested for passing a $100 counterfeit bill at the Walmart in Owatonna on May 31. In a statement to officers after that arrest, she admitted that she manufactured the bill she tried to spend that day.
During a later meeting with an undercover officer on June 7, Heather Cameron reportedly told the officer her husband showed her how to counterfeit the money.
During their court appearances Thursday, the Camerons were both approved to be represented by a public defender.
Freeborn County District Court Judge Steve Schwab also ordered unconditional bails of $100,000 for each and then ordered a bond study to provide him with more information for addressing release conditions at a later date.
Travis and Heather Cameron are next scheduled to appear in court on July 5. Manufacturing counterfeit U.S. currency carries a maximum penalty of 20 years in prison and a $100,000 fine.