Saturday, August 05, 2000

Counterfeiter gets reduced sentence

Counterfeiting by computer just too easy, court says

By Terry Kinney
The Associated Press Writer

        Making counterfeit currency with a computer and off-the-shelf software is so easy it doesn't merit the same jail time as the old-fashioned way, when a master engraver painstakingly etched metal plates, a federal appeals court has ruled.

        The 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Cincinnati ordered a district court in Tennessee to reduce its sentence for a man convicted of making bogus bills on a color inkjet printer.

        Mike Davis, special agent in charge of the Secret Service office in Cincinnati, said the agency considers all computer counterfeiting to be serious, but he acknowledged that courts have to keep a certain perspective regarding sentences.

        “Our position is that each case has to be taken on a case-by-case basis, and maybe that's what the court did in this instance,” Agent Davis said Friday.

        In the Tennessee case, Philip Godman pleaded guilty to one count of counterfeiting after selling counterfeit money to a Secret Service agent.

        At sentencing, a federal judge had added time to Mr. Godman's basic sentence based on his use of computer skills. Mr. Godman's total sentence was two years and three months.

        On appeal, Mr. Godman argued that he had no formal computer trainingMr.


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