Prosecutors want two-year sentence in Okinawa counterfeitting case
NAHA, Okinawa — Prosecutors are seeking a two-year prison sentence for a Marine who pleaded guilty Wednesday to counterfeiting Japanese currency.
Pvt. Stephen S. Williams, 21, assigned to Ammo Company, 3rd Material Readiness Battalion, 3rd Force Services Support Group on Camp Schwab, was arrested on June 25, a day after he passed a photocopied 10,000-yen bill (about $93) at a Nago gas station. A suspicious attendant reported to police that Williams bought 3,000 yen worth of gas with a 10,000-yen note, receiving 7,000 yen (about $65) in change.
The attendant gave police the license plate number of the car Williams was driving, which is believed to belong to his girlfriend.
Police traced Williams to his camp and he was arrested the day before he was to be transferred back to the United States.
During Wednesday’s session in Naha District Court, Williams admitted to violating Japan’s currency-control laws.
Williams said he created the fake bills on a color photocopy machine so that he could minimize his expenses on Okinawa before leaving for Seattle, his next duty station.
He said he wanted to save money so he could afford to fly to his home in North Carolina before reporting for duty at his new post.
Prosecutor Masahisa Yokota said Williams used a color copy machine at his girlfriend’s home in Gushikawa to make two fake 10,000-yen bills. The second bill was found in his bag the day he was arrested.
Calling the crime “skillful, malicious and deliberate,” Yokota requested a sentence of two years of hard labor in a Japanese prison.
Williams’ defense attorney, Miyatomi Harushima, called the incident a spur-of-the-moment impulse.
In tearfully telling his side of the story, Williams said he came up with the idea while copying some pictures on his girlfriend’s copy machine.
“I hurt a lot of people who love me,” he said. “I paid them back by slapping their faces,” he said as he broke down into tears.
Harushima asked the court for leniency.
“He is still a young man who has just turned 21 years old and he has promised to, from here on, become a law-abiding and respectable citizen,” he said.
Williams, who is being held in custody at the Naha Detention Center, will be sentenced Sept. 22.