Greenbelt, Maryland – Ricco Darnell Taylor, age 32, of Capitol Heights, Maryland, has pleaded guilty to manufacturing and passing counterfeit currency following an investigation led by the U.S. Secret Service.
The guilty plea was announced by Acting United States Attorney for the District of Maryland Jonathan F. Lenzner and Special Agent in Charge Matthew S. Miller of the United States Secret Service - Washington Field Office.
According to his guilty plea, from at least 2017 to December 2019, Ricco Darnell Taylor, conspired with others, including co-defendants Keara Davis and Deon Jones, to manufacture and pass counterfeit currency. Taylor manufactured the counterfeit currency using a printer at his home. Taylor gave the counterfeit currency to his co-conspirators or occasionally sold it. Taylor and his co-conspirators took the counterfeit currency to retailers in the area, where they used it to purchase merchandise. The conspirators subsequently returned the merchandise and received genuine currency.
During a search warrant executed by law enforcement on March 23, 2018, at the residence Taylor and Davis shared, officers recovered cell phones, three counterfeit $100 bills, gift cards, receipts from a victim retailer, linen copy paper, a printer, a scale and baggies, two shell casings, and a .38-caliber revolver. The linen copy paper was a type commonly used in counterfeit operations and subsequent testing by the United States Secret Service established that the ink contained in the printer’s ink cartridge was indistinguishable from ink analyzed from various counterfeit notes in this case.
The Secret Service collected evidence from dozens of instances in which Taylor and his co-conspirators passed counterfeit currency. For example, on June 19, 2019 Taylor purchased one package of diapers for $26.49 using one counterfeit $100 bill. The next day, Taylor returned the diapers, as well as some items purchased by Jones, in exchange for genuine currency. The Secret Service recovered eight counterfeit $100 bills used by Taylor and his co-conspirators during transactions on June 19, 2019, as well as video recordings and receipts reflecting their criminal activity.
On July 26, 2019 and October 10, 2019, officers conducted traffic stops on vehicles operated by Taylor. In the first instance, Taylor attempted to run away, but was apprehended. His vehicle was then searched, and officers recovered 18 counterfeit $100 bills, as well as Taylor’s cell phone, which contained text messages indicative of passing counterfeit bills. In the second instance, Taylor again ran away and attempted to discard counterfeit currency into a trash can. Law enforcement searched the trash can and recovered 13 cut counterfeit $100 bills displaying the same serial number, 27 pages of uncut $20 bills displaying three repeating serial numbers, and a key to the vehicle from which Taylor fled. Taylor’s fingerprints were subsequently found on the first three pages of the uncut counterfeit $20 bills.
In total, Taylor and his co-conspirators are responsible for passing between $95,000 and $150,000 in counterfeit currency. As part of his plea agreement, Taylor will be required to pay restitution in the full amount of the victims’ losses, which the parties agree is at least $95,000.
Taylor faces a maximum sentence of five years in federal prison for conspiracy to pass counterfeit currency and a maximum of 20 years in federal prison for manufacturing counterfeit currency. U.S. District Judge Theodore D. Chuang has scheduled sentencing for June 4, 2021 at 2:30 p.m.
Deon Kelsey Jones, age 30, of Temple Hills, Maryland, and Keara Unique Davis, age 29, of Capitol Heights, Maryland, previously pleaded guilty to their roles in the conspiracy. Judge Chuang has scheduled sentencing for Jones on March 23, 2021, and for Davis on June 2, 2021. Charges remain pending against a third co-defendant.
Acting United States Attorney Jonathan F. Lenzner commended the U.S. Secret Service for their work in the investigation. Mr. Lenzner thanked Assistant U.S. Attorneys Morgan Michael and Dana J. Brusca, who are prosecuting the case.