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Wednesday, November 15th, 2006

Local counterfeiting charge lands Akron man in prison for nine months

By Margie Wuebker
A Northeast Ohio man has been sentenced to prison in connection with a case involving the creation of counterfeit $50 bills that were passed at Mercer County businesses more than a year ago.
James M. Fixx, 37, of Akron, appeared in Mercer County Common Pleas Court last week and pleaded guilty to a bill of information charging him with complicity to commit forgery, a fifth-degree felony.
As part of a negotiated arrangement, Mercer County Assistant Prosecutor Matt Fox dismissed 15 counts of forgery contained in the original indictment.
Judge Jeffrey Ingraham proceeded to sentencing and ordered Fixx to serve nine months in the Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Correction. The time is to run concurrently with a sentence imposed in a related Auglaize County case. He also was ordered to pay $700 restitution.
Fixx, who has a history of criminal convictions, reportedly aided in the creation of the bills but was not present at any of the locations where they were passed, according to a statement of facts presented by the assistant prosecutor.
His accomplices - 35-year-old Lima residents Tony S. Harrell and Mark E. Joseph - were sentenced earlier this year to 12 months in prison on each of eight counts of forgery. The time is to be served concurrently, but consecutively to three-year terms handed down in related Auglaize County cases. Seven additional counts were dropped during plea negotiations.
On Sept. 28, 2005, the two men made nominal purchases at eight area businesses and received change from $50 bills later determined to be counterfeit.
Authorities confiscated bills from Carter Villa, Logan Street IGA, 3D Music Center, Robert's Town Tavern, Tractor Supply, Windy Point Carryout, Doc's Inn and the Bottle 'N Keg in Mercer County. The bills reportedly bore the same serial number and lacked security markings computer printers cannot reproduce.
The pair also passed counterfeit bills at other business in Allen and Auglaize counties, including Pantry Pride, Barlett's Carry Out and Friendly Tavern in St. Marys.
A multiagency investigation brought together police departments from Cridersville, Wapakoneta, St. Marys and Celina, the Auglaize County Sheriff's Office and the Mercer County Sheriff's Office. They were assisted by the U.S. Secret Service, the federal agency responsible for investigations into counterfeiting.
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