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March 16, 2022

Willingboro man sentenced to prison for making counterfeit money with bleached $1 bills

Hollis Forteau, 38, took a plea deal after being accused of overseeing a scheme to use the fake cash to buy and exchange items at Virginia stores

Courts Sentencing
Counterfeit Bills Thom Carroll/for PhillyVoice

Hollis Forteau, 38, of Willingboro, has been sentenced to five years in prison after he accepted a plea deal. He had been accused of running a counterfeit money scheme in which he produced fake $100 bills from bleached $1 bills.

A Burlington County man accused of running a multi-state counterfeit money scheme has been sentenced to five years in prison.

Hollis Forteau, 38, of Willingboro Township, pleaded guilty to a single charge of conspiracy to possess counterfeit currency as part of a deal with prosecutors, court documents say.

Forteau made counterfeit $100 bills by printing images of $100 bills onto $1 bills that he had bleached, the documents say. The process was meant to make the bills appear genuine, even if a clerk tested them with a counterfeit detection pen.

Between December 2019 and January 2020, Forteau led at least six co-conspirators on two trips to Virginia, where the group bought products with the counterfeit bills and later exchanged them for real money at another location, prosecutors said. 

The group avoided stores with bill scanners, because the technology would have identified Forteau's bills as fake, court documents say. Forteau did not go into the stores, but instead directed other to do so and took a cut of their profits. 

Forteau brought a laptop and printer purchased with counterfeit money so he could ensure a consistent flow of counterfeit bills, court documents say. 

Three women involved in the scheme, all from the Philadelphia area, were arrested on Jan. 5, 2020 near Williamsburg, Virginia after they carried out their scheme at a Sunglasses Hut. An employee followed their car and called police. 

The women were taken into custody after officers found counterfeit money and items that had been purchased in the store, court documents say. The trio was charged with possession of fake bank notes, obtaining money by false pretense and conspiring to commit a felony, the Virginia Gazette reported.

After they were released from jail, Forteau drove to Virginia to pick the women up, and on the way back to the Philadelphia area the group made more purchases with counterfeit bills, court documents say.

Forteau was arrested in Philly in September 2021 after the U.S. Secret Service found a video of him throwing $1 bills in the air with a printer visible in the background on social media.

Forteau had 29 bleached $1 bills, a single counterfeit $100 bill and several ink cartridges when he was arrested, authorities said. Investigators later found another 110 counterfeit $100 bills in a car he was renting. 

Forteau was sentenced in Norfolk, Virginia on Monday. Charges against his co-conspirators are still pending.

"Mr. Forteau is sincerely regretful for any harm that he had caused," his lawyer Daymen Robinson told McClatchey News. "He will immediately begin to reimburse those who suffered economic loss and do his best to make amends for his conduct."

Note: Portions of this story were edited and changed after it was originally published.