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13-044 Sheriff Bob Gualtieri Announces Arrest Of Two Suspects In Connection With Counterfeit/ Money Laundering Scheme That Targeted Multiple Department Store Chains In Florida And California

Pinellas County Sheriff’s Office
Investigative Operations Bureau
-Economic Crimes Unit
Patrol Operations Bureau
-Strategic Enforcement Section (SES)

Unites States Secret Service

Florida Office of the Attorney General

Christopher William DiPasquale (Arrested)
(DOB: 08/14/1966)
Address: 1800 Bayshore Way, Clearwater
Arrested for Money Laundering (previous arrest included Dealing in Stolen Property and Uttering Forged Bills)

Robert Stanley Kowalczyk (Arrested)
DOB: 06/04/1977
Address: 29021 Bouquet Canyon, Santa Clarita
Arrested for Money Laundering, Bringing Counterfeit Notes into the States, Possession of Instruments for Counterfeiting Bills and Possession of Methamphetamine

Sheriff Bob Gualtieri announced the arrest of two men involved in the production of counterfeit bills; and a money laundering scheme that targeted multiple department store chains in Florida and California. The victims in this case are various well know department stores to include Home Depot, Lowes, Macy’s and Walmart. At this point, detectives have recovered about $100,000 in counterfeit bills.

The Sheriff announced the details of the case and outlined the collaboration among the Sheriff’s Office Economic Crimes Unit, The US Secret Service and the Florida Office of the Attorney General during a news conference held on Monday, March 11, 2013.

One of the suspects was arrested on March 7, 2013; the other was arrested on March 4, 2013.

The suspects were arrested in Pinellas County.

Detectives began their investigation in November of 2012 after it was determined that counterfeit bills were being passed locally.

The investigation, developed a suspect identified as 46-year-old Christopher DiPasquale as the individual posibly printing and passing counterfeit $100 bills.

The subsequent investigation, which included surveillance, led to the discovery of an elaborate scheme in which the suspect, 46-year Christopher DiPasquale was determined to be engaged in a process of bleaching $1 bills and then printing over them to convert them into $100 dollar bills. The printing was determined to be occurring within the suspect’s residence located at 1800 Bay Shore Way in Clearwater. According to investigators DiPasquale would then enter retailers and purchase items with the counterfeit $100 notes. Detectives say DiPasquale would then systematically return the purchased items to the retail outlets, receiving US Currency in exchange and allowing the suspect to launder extensive amounts of counterfeit.

On multiple occasions the suspect was observed conducting counterfeit transactions, as well as returns, at various Walmart’s, Home Depot’s and Lowe’s. On February 20, 2013, the suspect was observed driving north on US Highway 19 and observed entering Walmart’s and Lowe’s from Brooksville to Ocala. He would enter the business and make a purchase (with the counterfeit bills) and/or return items (receiving US currency in exchange). After numerous transactions, detectives say Dipasquale returned to his residence, still in possession of some property. Detectives executed a search warrant at the home and recovered sale receipts and counterfeit bills. DiPasquale was arrested for dealing in stolen property and uttering  forged bills. Additional charges remained pending. Detectives say DiPasquale’s activity occurred in 16 counties across the state from Jacksonville to Miami-Dade and occurred over a period of about two years.

During this time frame, investigators also learned that 35-year-old Robert Kowalczyk, who had been arrested in California for possession of Methamphetamine, was also found to be in possession of counterfeit notes. Detectives determined that Kowalczyk manufactured counterfeit currency in California, passed the fake bills at department stores and then returned them in exchange for real currency. His activities went on for about four years. Kowalczyks activities were subsequently determined to be linked to those of DiPasquale in Florida.

After being released on bond, detectives say on March 3, 2013 Kowalczyk traveled from California to Florida for the purpose of manufacturing and distributing additional counterfeit currency throughout the state of Florida. He was arrested on March 4, 2013 at the Clearwater home of DiPasquale and found to be in possession of 41 washed US treasury notes, a laptop computer, storage drives and additional counterfeiting tools.  He was arrested for Money Laundering, Bringing Counterfeit Notes into the States and Possession of Instruments for Counterfeiting bills.

DiPasquale, who had also been released on bond, was arrested on March 7, 2013 for Money Laundering.

Sheriff Bob Gualtieri said the arrests are the result of  “good police work and dedicated surveillance .” The Sheriff also commended the joint effort of  the participating agencies to include the Secret Service and the Statewide Prosecutor.

“This joint investigation was successful due to the dedicated efforts of the Pinellas County SO, the Statewide Prosecutor and the US Secret Service. With the strength of our financial crimes task force, agents and deputies worked in concert to identify, investigate and address a large counterfeiting and money laundering scheme that affected citizens throughout the state of Florida as well as the state of California, said John Joyce, Special Agent in Charge of the Secret Service Tampa Field Office.

“I am proud to partner with Pinellas County Sheriff Bob Gualtieri’s Office in arresting those charged with a money laundering and counterfeiting scheme to steal from our retailers throughout Florida,” added Attorney General Pam Bondi.

The investigation continues.







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