CHARLESTON -- A man agreed to repay several local businesses for reportedly using counterfeit $100 bills to make purchases.
Lyndell E. Wafford pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor theft charge after a judge granted his attorney's motion to dismiss the felony forgery charges that were originally filed in the case.
Wafford, 20, for whom court records list addresses of 1710 Wabash Ave., Mattoon, and in Chicago, was accused of using the counterfeit bills at several different businesses, mostly the Charleston Wal-Mart, in September.
Case records indicate that Wafford told police he got the bills from selling two cellphones to a man he didn't know, and he claimed he didn't know the bills were counterfeit.
The case's prosecutor said he didn't discount that possibility and also said there was no indication that Wafford made the counterfeit bills himself.
The $1,400 in restitution payments was one of the terms of the two-year court supervision sentence Wafford received. It also included forfeiting any counterfeit currency that was seized during the investigation.
With court supervision, Wafford won't have a record of a conviction if he follows also his sentence's requirements.
The theft offense to which he pleaded guilty could have brought up to a year in jail. The felony charges that were dismissed could have resulted in a prison sentence of two to five years, though prison time wasn't required.
Case records indicate that the counterfeit bills were discovered when a Charleston bank reported receiving two $100 bills with the same serial number.
Video surveillance security equipment recorded Wafford using the bills at some of the businesses, leading to his arrest, the records say.
There were indications that Wafford made purchases at several different cash registers at Wal-Mart, all on Sept. 24, according to the records. In those instances, he used the $100 bills to make small purchases for which he received change, they say.
Other businesses due to receive part of the restitution ordered in the case are Dollar Tree, Murphy Oil, McDonald's and First Neighbor Bank in Charleston and Little Mexico and Alexander Auto Parts in Mattoon.
On the motion to dismiss the felony charges, Coles County Circuit Judge Teresa Righter agreed with the contentions from defense attorney Ilia Usharovich of Wheeling.
Usharovich argued that the charges meant a threat of double jeopardy, as Wafford could also be prosecuted for counterfeiting at the federal level.
Assistant State's Attorney Rob Scales responded by saying the possibility of federal charges didn't prevent the filing of state charges, which could later be dismissed. He also said forgery, which accuses someone of presenting a false document, isn't the same as producing counterfeit currency.
Scales said the plea agreement reached later was based in part on Wafford's willingness to repay the businesses. He also noted Wafford's lack of prior criminal convictions.
The investigation never determined who produced the counterfeit bills but there were no indications that Wafford had the materials needed to do so or anything else to indicate he made them, Scales also said.