URBANA — The last of seven Vermilion County residents involved in a counterfeit money ring in Danville more than a year ago has been sentenced to prison.
U.S. District Judge Michael P. McCuskey sentenced James. J. Kirst, 34, of Danville, to three years and 10 months in the federal Bureau of Prisons. Kirst was sentenced on Aug. 31 in U.S. District Court in Urbana.
Kirst pleaded guilty to one count of conspiring to manufacture and pass counterfeit U.S. currency from late 2010 to February 2011 before U.S. Magistrate Judge David G. Bernthal on May 31.
Federal prosecutors said Kirst admitted that he and co-conspirator Sarah MacPherson of Danville manufactured counterfeit $20 bills at their Woodbury Street apartment, using a color scanner, copier and printer.
Kirst then distributed the counterfeit currency to other conspirators including MacPherson, Brandon Gore, Andrew Sanchez and Kevin Williams. Those conspirators, in turn, passed the bills at multiple retail businesses in Danville or to other conspirators including April Cremonesi and Elizabeth Howard.
Sharon Paul, a spokeswoman for the U.S. attorney general's office, Central District of Illinois, said court records show that Sanchez passed a fake $20 bill at Burger King in Danville on Nov. 29, 2010. Gore passed the bills at a Mobile gas station and Steak 'n Shake and Wendy's restaurants between November 2010 and January 2011.
Paul said Cremonesi got a $20 bill, which she knew to be counterfeit, from Williams who got it from Kirst, and used it at a Hardees on Dec. 3, 2010. At a Burger King on Dec. 19, 2010, Howard, one of the restaurant's employees, accepted four $20 bills that she knew were fake from conspirators, and gave them four real $20 bills in exchange.
And MacPherson passed counterfeit $20 bills at a Hardees, Steak 'n Shake and Walgreens between December 2010 and January 2011, Paul said.
The case was investigated by the U.S. Secret Service and Danville Police Department, and prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Eugene L. Miller.
Kirst is the last of the conspirators who were charged to be sentenced. MacPherson, Gore, Sanchez, Williams and Cremonesi all pleaded guilty and were sentenced to prison terms for their role in the conspiracy.
Sanchez received two years in prison, while MacPherson, Cremonesi and Williams each received one year and one day in prison. Gore received six months in prison followed by a year of home detention. And Howard received three years of probation including four months of home detention.
All were ordered to remain under supervised released for three years following their release from prison.