Men make counterfeit money; in many more cases, money makes counterfeit men.
- Sydney J Harris
Inmates in the general population have stories with a touch of romance. Jim, for example, was a counterfeiter. It seems that whenever I have a visitor, he too is visited by his very beautiful and well-dressed wife. Jim was very good at what he did. He made his own engraving plates, tracing the intricate engraving from a $100 bill projected and enlarged on a screen. As he traced the enlarged projected bill, a reduced-size engraving was made by a stylus that moved in tandem, but at original scale, with the tracing. He mixed his own ink dye, and used dollar bills, bleached of their color, for paper. I'm told that the finished product would fool almost anyone.
Several years ago he started his one-man enterprise. He would take a stack of his hundreds, and visit a number of stores, where he would shop and pay - as you would suspect - cash for his purchases. He took his change in "real money." He was able to pass and consequently legitimise thousands of dollars in this fashion, until one day an astute vendor found that if he rubbed the bill hard enough, his finger would turn green.
Jim's arrest resulted in a conviction and a two-year sentence in a prison "camp," a facility which has no fences and from which escape is relatively easy. It was simple for Jim, being bored one afternoon and sensing a chill in the North Carolina air, to leave for a warmer climate. He was able to catch a ride to Georgia, and while there rolled a drunk who resembled him in appearance, took his ID, and hitchhiked to Miami.
His boyish good looks and winsome smile were all he needed to get a job in a shopping mall as a salesman in a fashionable clothing outlet. As a salary advance, he was permitted to clothe himself in the kind of tailored suits that a man of substance would wear. Now all he had to do was become a man of substance.
It took him almost a year to outfit a new counterfeiting operation. During that time he met Nancy, an extremely attractive salesperson who worked in the mall. They first met while on their lunch break, and after several lunches and a dozen or so suppers, they became roommates - he moved into the house that her recently deceased mother had left her.
At first, Jim "even thought about abandoning his life of crime. There he was, living in Florida with a stable job and a beautiful woman, contemplating marriage. Who could ask for more?
Jim, actually. So he did.
"Nancy, I've got something to tell you," he said one Sunday morning. He then proceeded to tell her his true identity as well as his life story. At first she thought he was joking, and then it dawned on her that he was telling the truth, that she was living with an escaped convict who intended to go back to the profession he knew best - making counterfeit, or "queer," as it's called on the street. That explained the mysterious trunk he had stored in the garage, it was his counterfeiting paraphernalia. They were the tools of his trade.
She sat in stunned silence for at least ten minutes before she said, "Let's get married" - and then, with a smile, "You have to, now - so that I can't testify against you."
And so they were married. And Jim did go back into the business. They both used the "queer" at various stores in other malls, mostly for clothes. This explains why Nancy is so well dressed on visiting day. Jim tells me that at home he has several closets filled with clothes, most of which he has never worn and, given the sentence he is now serving, will never be able to wear - unless styles are the same 10 years from now.
This time he was not caught by an alert merchant. He made the mistake of falling in with some drug smugglers who were using his counterfeit money to payoff their Colombian drug suppliers. When an undercover agent of the DEA identified him as the counterfeiter, Jim had two choices. He could either identify all the players in the drug enterprise, and buy a 15-year sentence to include his escape charge; or he could be indicted for the escape, the counterfeiting, and a drug conspiracy charge and face life imprisonment. He has served four years of his 15-year sentence.
Former NY State Supreme Court Chief Justice Sol Wachtler
Source: Anderson Valley Advertiser, Boonville, California
What seems more amazing to me than Jim the Counterfeiter is that a Chief Justice would stalk and harass someone. Was Wachtler unable to control himself? Or did he believe that no one would touch him because of his position?
In either case, prison must've been a real eye-opener for him and would undoubtedly have made him a much better Chief Justice afterward - except that he was possibly not allowed to continue in his position after that.
by David Johnson
The need to deal with crime justifies the passage of criminal laws, the creation of a central bureaucracy, the employment of agents, and the arrest, trial and incarceration of offenders. In the process of erecting such a system, government officials in effect create standardised definitions of correct behaviour for all their subjects.
A policing system in this context becomes a powerful tool for socialising citizens to recognising the power of the state in their lives, as the enforcement apparatus gives the state an effective means for penetrating into the local civil fabric of society in order to enforce its version of political and social order. And the central government's control of currency greatly enhances that power since it is a crucial participant in the creation of a modern capitalistic economy - but only if the general population willingly accepts this currency as a means of exchange.
The whole financial system, not to mention the economy itself, thus depends on a very fragile trust in paper money.
Source: Anderson Valley Advertiser 3 May 2000
Andy's Prison Stay
Several years ago, Andy was sentenced to prison. During his stay, he got along well with the guards and all his fellow inmates. The warden saw that deep down, Andy was a good person and made arrangements for Andy to learn a trade while doing his time. After 3 years, Andy was recognised as one of the best carpenters in the local area. Often he would be given a weekend pass to do odd jobs for the citizens of the community.... and he always reported back to prison before Sunday night was over.
The warden was thinking of remodeling his kitchen and in fact had done much of the work himself. But he lacked the skills to build a set of kitchen cupboards and a large counter top which he had promised his wife. So he called Andy into his office and asked him to complete the job for him.
But, alas, Andy refused. He told the warden, "Gosh, I'd really like to help you but counter fitting is what got me into prison in the first place".
For articles on white collar and petty crimes, injustice, capital punishment, race, executioners, freedom of the press, cheating, private prisons, punishment, retribution, prison
labour, appeals, instant justice, electronic tags, lepers and second chances click the "Up" button below to take you to the Index for this Prisons section.