MADISON - A South Beloit man who purchased counterfeit money orders from an Internet Web site and unknowingly sold them to an undercover Beloit police officer was sentenced Tuesday in federal court to two years in prison and placed on probation for three years.
Rick Allen Lucas, 45, was unable to find work and in “financial desperation” in December 2006 after serving a sentence imposed in Rock County Circuit Court in 1991 for sexual assault of a child, said his attorney Michael Lieberman.
Lucas made the “unwise decision” to obtain phony American Express money orders, and gift checks from a Web site and told a friend about them, who informed the Beloit police, said Assistant U.S. Attorney Grant Johnson.
The officer made arrangements with Lucas to buy the counterfeit money orders with a face value in excess of $66,000 for $4,000 and arrested Lucas after completing the transaction.
A vehicle search recovered another $6,000 in counterfeit securities, said District Judge John Shabaz.
Lucas confessed quickly and was indicted in December on single counts of uttering and passing counterfeit securities. He pleaded guilty to the passing charge in March.
Lucas declined to make a statement Tuesday at sentencing other than to say, “I was stupid.”
Lieberman asked for a sentence of 21 months, the minimum term under the advisory guidelines for the offense and the amount of counterfeit securities Lucas possessed. Lieberman explained that Lucas was mainly engaged in a crime of opportunity, which he didn't try to excessively exploit.
Shabaz said Lucas warranted a longer sentence citing his history of physical and financial crimes, including bail jumping last year for contacting the victim in sex assault conviction.
Also, the value of the counterfeit securities Lucas possessed, had someone been able to use them, “could have created a staggering loss for the community to absorb,” Shabaz said.
While on probation, Lucas is to participate in mental health counseling and take two to 12 drug tests. Shabaz continued Lucas' release on conditions and ordered him to report to prison on June 19.