Cloyd Ray Knight III had a great run.
He began to perfect a process to make phony $100 bills in 2004, operating what amounted to a small print shop out of his Arlington home.
Knight began by applying a layer of acrylic paint to newspaper print paper. Then he would print a simulated watermark on the paper and add his own security stripe before printing front and rear images on the bills with one of the 38 printers the feds would eventually seize. To finish his handiwork, Knight would apply a dulling agent to the bills to give them the consistency of legitimate currency.
After finishing bills that were to his liking, Knight traveled to East Texas and northwest Louisiana to pass them off. He admits to making purchases with the bills in Tyler, Lufkin, Texarkana, Shreveport and Bossier City, buying inexpensive items or services to get change for his creations.
Knight isn't sure how many bills he passed off, but he agrees with the government that it was at least $400,000 worth. He got away with it too -- every time, until he didn't for the first time, on December 7, 2012, at a Target in Tyler.
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That day, he tried to spend a $100 bill he knew was fake, he admits, and was arrested.
Apparently, Knight didn't keep much of the change he received from exchanging the baloney bills. Throughout his trial, he has been defended by a public defender.
Knight pleaded guilty to the manufacture and passing of the counterfeit money in May 2013, but skipped bail before his October 2013 sentencing hearing. He managed to stay on the lam until January, when he was recaptured.
On Tuesday, Knight was ordered to serve 69 months in federal prison.