BURLINGTON, Vt. — Two Montreal area men have pleaded not guilty to conspiracy charges for allegedly passing counterfeit $100 bills during major purchases at stores in Vermont and New York and then returning the merchandise to obtain real money.
Francois Gendron Bureau, 32, of Sainte-Julie, Que. and Marc Andre Duclos, 27, of Beloeil, Que. are named in a four-count federal indictment in U.S. District Court in Burlington.
The federal grand jury also issued a forfeiture notice for all property traceable to the counterfeiting conspiracy if the men are convicted on any of the four felony counts.
Federal Magistrate Judge John M. Conroy agreed to release both recently Wednesday on $5,000 cash bail and strict conditions. The parents of both defendants posted the money by Wednesday afternoon.
The indictment said as part of the conspiracy, both men walked into the Walmart store in Plattsburgh, N.Y. on Jan. 7, and Duclos used fake money to buy $889 worth of merchandise. Later that day the defendants drove to the Walmart in Williston, Vt. where Duclos returned the merchandise and received $889 in genuine money, the indictment said.
Bureau and Duclos allegedly carried out an identical scheme with the Walmart stores in Orleans and Washington Counties, according to the charges. The two men made separate purchases of $2,064 and $1,524 with funny money at the Walmart in Derby on Feb. 21, the charges maintain.
Later that day the two men went to the Walmart in Berlin so Duclos could return the goods purchased and he received $1,524 in real U.S. money, the indictment said.
The indictment does not mention what happened with the $2,064 purchase.
Besides the conspiracy charge, one of the other three counts in the indictment asserts the men actually passed $3,600 in bogus bills at the Walmart in Derby on Feb. 21.
The other two counts maintain a bogus $100 bill also was passed at a pair of stories: Bed, Bath & Beyond in Williston on Jan. 7 and at Staples in South Burlington, Vt. on Feb. 21.
Investigation by the U.S. Secret Service in Vermont led to the indictment in June, but all court papers were placed under seal until federal agents could arrest Bureau and Duclos in Canada.
They appeared briefly in U.S. District Court briefly on Monday where Assistant U.S. Attorney Andrew Gilman initially asked for detention pending their trial. His written motion noted the two men had no known ties to Vermont except that was where they decided to commit their crimes.
However when the detention hearing resumed on Wednesday, the U.S. Pretrial Services Office had proposed release with cash bail. Gilman said after speaking with the defendants’ parents, who were in the courtroom, the prosecution agreed with the release terms and was withdrawing the detention request.
Conroy explained to Bureau and Duclos that a U.S-Canada treaty would allow for them to be extradited back to Vermont if they failed to appear for future court hearings in Burlington. They also would face additional time in prison for failure to appear, Conroy noted.