Crime & Courts

Guilty pleas entered by members of Midlands counterfeiting ring

Six Midlands counterfeiters have pleaded guilty to their involvement in a highly organized 2006 counterfeit check ring that passed more than $125,000 in worthless checks.

Pleading guilty to conspiracy to pass phony securities were Byron Kendall Brown, 34, Rafael Dominic Christopher Williams, 23, Kizzie Lee Washington, 30, and Lakeisha Nicole Robinson, 28, all of Columbia.

Darryl Steven Cockrell, 33, and Shaquan Lamonte Lovely, 39, both of Hopkins, also pleaded guilty, Judge Joseph F. Anderson took the pleas on Wednesday, he will pass sentence at a later date.

The six were part of a group of approximately 20 individuals in North and South Carolina who traveled in both states to pass counterfeit checks at various businesses, said acting U.S. Attorney Kevin McDonald.

The group had specific roles for those involved, McDonald said. Some members produced the counterfeit checks, others located individuals to pass the checks, and still others scouted businesses in which they could cash checks, he said.

The group also used fake ID cards and placed clear fingernail polish on their fingertips to avoid leaving prints on checks they were passing, McDonald said.

Investigators contend that the group is responsible for losses of approximately $128,000.00.

The maximum penalty each defendant can receive is a fine of $250,000 and five years in prison, plus an order to pay restitution.

The case was investigated the United States Secret Service. Assistant U.S. Attorney Nathan Williams of the Columbia office is prosecuting the case.