When he gets out of federal lockup, Michael Allen Watson may want to consider finding a new line of work. His current vocation -- counterfeiting money using computer printers -- isn't working out so well.
Six years ago, the U.S. Secret Service raided Watson's Dallas home after a pit bull breeder he paid $500 discovered the cash was fake. Inside, agents found more fake cash, including a sheet of $100 bills in the tray of his Hewlett Packard printer. The more serious criminal charge of conspiring to manufacture counterfeit currency was dropped after Watson pleaded guilty to a possession charge. He was sentenced to 27 months in prison.
At this point, Watson could have decided that printing fake money wasn't worth the risk. Instead, the feds say, he tried to give it another shot.
This time, according to documents filed Wednesday in federal court, Watson's scheme began to unravel at a Fort Worth Walmart on January 14 when a woman was busted trying to pass two fake $100 bills.
She agreed to cooperate with police, telling them that she'd gotten the bills from a guy named Mike, who charged $.50 on the dollar but also accepted drugs and alcohol. The deals always went down at his apartment at Grand Prairie's Quail Ridge complex.
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Her story was given added credibility on February 6, when the Secret Service received an anonymous Crime Stoppers tip via Grand Prairie Police identifying Watson as the manufacturer of "$1,000-$2,000" in fake currency.
Agents raided the apartment on February 7. They found lots of $5 and $1 notes in the upstairs bathroom, a can of Easy-Off oven cleaner they suspected was used to bleach said notes, and bags and boxes filled with counterfeit $100 bills.
Prosecutors filed a criminal complaint accusing Watson of manufacturing counterfeit currency. They say he poses a significant flight risk and are asking that he be jailed pending trial.
Send your story tips to the author, Eric Nicholson.