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Brown's Division of Gambling Control Busts Casino Counterfeiters

Thursday, September 20, 2007
Contact: (415) 703-5837

SAN FRANCISCO—California Attorney General Edmund G. Brown Jr. today announced that the Division of Gambling Control has caught, red-handed, two counterfeiters who were feeding fake $100 bills into slot machines at a Tribal Casino in Mendocino County.

Commenting on the counterfeiter’s tactics, Attorney General Brown said, “These two bandits used home printers to make fake bills that tricked casino slot machines into paying out more than $100,000. Our Division of Gambling Control demonstrated great skill and incredible ingenuity in catching and arresting these counterfeiters.

Jack Daniels Ewing, 27, and Mikael Inturbe, 27, were arrested today at the Sho-Ka-Wah Casino in Hopland on charges of conspiracy, counterfeiting and burglary after a four-month investigation revealed that the two-man team was bleaching real $1 bills and using home printers to make counterfeit $100 bills. The counterfeiters bilked at least 20 casinos in Northern California and Nevada out of more than $100,000.

While under surveillance, the suspects were observed passing off large quantities of counterfeit “old style” $100 bills through the bill validators of gaming machines at Northern California and Nevada casinos. The suspects demonstrated familiarity with the security features of the bill validators and were proficient at avoiding detection.

In most cases the suspects fed bills into the machine, cashed out, and left the casino. Occasionally, the suspects used the fake bills to play the slot machines, sometimes winning up to $4000.

The suspects leased rental cars from a variety of Bay Area rental car companies in an effort to evade authorities. They also employed the services of third party associates to rent the vehicles on their behalf. The suspects were known to wear a variety of baseball-style caps from different sports teams, a trademark disguise that used as they moved from casino to casino.

During a raid of an Extended Stay Hotel in Richmond California where one of the suspects was residing, investigators found two printers, a scanner, rubber gloves, chemical bleaching solutions, a stack of bleached bills, and a pile of baseball caps.

The California Department of Justice joined the Mendocino County Sheriff’s Department in apprehending the suspects today at the Sho-Ka-Wah Casino in Hopland, Mendocino County. The suspects were caught red-handed as they were feeding fraudulent bills into machines.

Today’s Arrestees include:

• Mikael Inturbe (DOB 1/18/1980) who resides at the 100 Block of Oxford Street in Hercules, California.

• Jack Daniels Ewing (DOB 7/28/1980) who was apprehended at an Extended Stay Hotel on the 3100 Block of Garrity Way in Richmond, California. His permanent address is in Las Vegas, Nevada.

Both suspects were charged with 182 PC (Conspiracy), 475(a) PC (Counterfeiting) and 182 PC (Burglary). Bail is set at $300,000 for each defendant.

According to FBI statistics, there are approximately 100,000 forgery and counterfeiting charges filed in the United States annually. The Division of Gambling Control’s investigation into this case remains active and ongoing.

Photos of the suspects and a counterfeit bill will be uploaded to the Attorney General’s website: www.ag.ca.gov/newsalerts. Stay tuned for updates.

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