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Pittsburgh Fraud, Uganda Counterfeit Schemes Linked in Unusual Case

A federal investigation in Pittsburgh revealed that fraud that was occurring within the city was actually linked to counterfeit money schemes based in Uganda, a surprising end to investigations that began around Christmas of 2013. 

The original incident that sparked the investigation happened at a Peet’s Coffee in Pittsburgh. Joseph Graziano Jr., who three months earlier had been accused of embezzling over $2 million from Bank of New York Mellon Corp., walked into the coffee shop and paid for his drink with a counterfeit $100 bill. He had a bunch more of the fake bills in his pocket. He was given the change in actual currency and continued to use the fake bills around the city in what law enforcement officials believe was an attempt to launder the fake money. 

As investigators attempted to uncover the source of the counterfeit bills, their online investigation led them to Africa. A search in Uganda turned up an American, Ryan Andrew Gustafson, who is now accused of leading an international counterfeit circle that gave the fake money to Graziano and many more people. Gustafson, according to charges, manufactured over $2 million in American currency, most of which circulated in Uganda but also was shipped to various locations around the United States. About $30,000 of the fake money was recovered in Pittsburgh. 

Graziano and Gustafson now face charges of a variety of white collar crimes, including embezzlement, money laundering and counterfeiting. 

There are many different types of white collar crimes, and when the money involved reaches levels similar to those in this case, the penalties become severe. If you have been charged with a white collar crime in Berks County, contact Reading criminal defense attorney David R. Eshelman.

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