PORTLAND, Maine — A Westbrook man who used fake $100 bills to purchase items and then return them for real cash was sentenced Monday in federal court to two years in prison and ordered to split $13,330 in restitution with his co-conspirator.
Jamal “Keith” Bradberry, 36, and Brittany Wildes, 24, were arrested in January 2012 and charged with two counts each of conspiracy to pass counterfeited obligations of the United States.
Prosecutors say the duo used nearly $30,000 in counterfeit money between October 2011 and the time of their arrest to purchase merchandise and return it at stores in Maine and Connecticut. Bradberry also purchased tires for his truck on Jan. 14, 2012, with the fake money at a tire shop in South Portland, court documents state.
U.S. District Court Judge George Singal sentenced Bradberry to 24 months for each of the two counts against him, to be served concurrently, and three years of supervised release. The $13,300 in restitution must be paid jointly by Bradberry, who plead guilty to the charges in September, and Brittany Wildes, who was convicted of the crime by jury trial in November, the justice ordered.
Wildes, who was sentenced to 18 months behind bars and three years of supervised release after she gets out, since has appealed the verdict, according to documents filed Feb. 26 in the federal courts system.
“All of the counterfeit notes … were manufactured in the same way and contain a unique set of defects, meaning that they are from the same family of counterfeit notes and likely come from one source,” the prosecutor’s version of the crime, filed in court, states.
Court documents did not say who made the fake bills.
The investigation into the phony $100 bills began in November 2011 when the Sears store at the Maine Mall reported that a total of $2,100 in counterfeit notes had been used to pay for a snowblower on Nov. 20, according to court documents. The next day, the woman who purchased the snowblower returned it for a cash refund.
From November to mid-January, the pair allegedly executed similar purchases and returns at Target; Bed, Bath and Beyond; J.C. Penney; Olympia Sports; Footlocker and other stores in southern Maine and Milford, Conn.
After tracing the bills to Wilde and Bradberry, police searched Wildes’ apartment and vehicle on Jan. 14, according to court documents. Items seized included 63 counterfeit $100 bills, $9,300 in genuine currency and items allegedly purchased with the fake money.
BDN reporter Judy Harrison contributed to this story.