Soldier in South Korea sentenced for counterfeiting
September 7, 2006
A South Korean judge on Friday sentenced a Camp Stanley soldier to 2½ years in prison for counterfeiting currency, officials confirmed Tuesday.
Pfc. Allen E. Coates of the 204th Signal Battalion admitted to printing 30 fake $20 bills, six $100 bills and 20 South Korean 10,000 won notes worth a little more than $10 each, legal officials have told Stars and Stripes.
While delivering the sentence, Uijeongbu District Court Chief Judge Cho Yoon-sin called the crime a “grave felony,” officials confirmed.
Defense attorney Jin Hyo-keun told Stripes that his client faced a five-year jail term as requested by prosecutors, but the judge believed Coates regretted the offense. That Coates made “financial settlements” with the victims also helped, Jin said during a phone interview Tuesday.
But Jin said he feels the 2½-year sentence “is too tough” and wasn’t warranted.
Coates and Jin were to meet Wednesday to decide whether to appeal the sentence, the attorney said.
Police said Coates used the fake money to buy drinks and take taxis in the Itaewon entertainment district outside of Yongsan Garrison in Seoul.
A taxi driver reported that a soldier gave him three forged 10,000-won bills to pay for a ride from Seoul to Camp Stanley early on April 7.
The soldier confessed after questioning, police said, and nine additional forged $20 bills were discovered in his barracks room.
Investigators said Coates made the bills using a scanner and printer in his barracks.
U.S. military officials could not be reached for comment on Tuesday.