More details: Alleged fake IDers to remain in jail
The alleged counterfeiters from the May 6 fake ID-ring bust on Rugby Road were in court again and will not be leaving jail in the near future as the government amasses evidence against them and promises more charges.
Investigators have found more than $2 million in cash so far– $1.3 million in the house alone and hundreds of thousands of dollars in multiple bank accounts, according to U.S. Attorney Tim Heaphy. The May 7 criminal complaint had noted $200,000 was in a safe in the house.
Despite such liquidity, that's not likely to help 31-year-old Alan McNeil Jones. He appeared in court May 16 with attorney (and frequent Hook legal analyst) David Heilberg, who said if Jones' access to legitimate funds to pay his fee fell through, he'd need to move to withdraw from the case.
Heaphy told Judge Waugh Crigler he had a couple of concerns about Jones' ability to hire an attorney, given that four to seven bank accounts and over $1 million cash had been seized and he was unaware of Jones having "a legitimate source of income."
"I understand Mr. Heilberg is expensive," said Crigler.
The judge informed Jones that he had the right to be indicted after a certain period. When Jones consulted Heilberg seated beside him, Crigler said, "I can repeat it. You don't need a translator."
Jones waived a preliminary hearing in which the government produces evidence to establish probable cause within 30 days, and he did not request bail at this time. Nor did his co-defendants, Mark Bernardo and Kelly McPhee.
Currently Jones and McPhee are charged with three felony counts for mail, wire, and false identification fraud. Bernardo is charged with fake ID fraud and money laundering. And U.S. Attorney Heaphy has promised more charges.
Bernardo appeared in court with public defender Fred Heblich, who was assisted by Jessica Phillips. (She's representing Supervisor Chris Dumler, who was in court May 20 seeking dismissal of a petition for his removal from office.)
Heblich told the judge that Bernardo's mother and two sisters were in town from New York, and indicated that his client would like to be considered for bail in the future. Mary Bernardo, who wiped tears from her eyes in court, declined to comment after the hearing.
Of the three defendants, McPhee seems to have the most local ties, and more than a dozen family members and friends were in court for her brief appearance. She seemed more composed than at her appearance a week ago, and once again mouthed, "I love you" to her parents before she was led out.
"All of them had multiple false IDs," said Heaphy. And inside the house at 920 Rugby Road, investigators have found driver's licenses from 15 to 20 states, said Heaphy, as well as student IDs.
The search warrant inventory provided a detailed list of items taken from the house, including 18 firearms. Two Smith & Wesson .40-caliber pistols, two Ruger .22-caliber handguns and two Ruger rifles, four Browning 9mm handguns, and a Sears Ted Williams 20-gauge shotgun were among the weaponry, as was a Streetwise stun gun.
Everything needed to produce what investigators described as "high quality fraudulent driver's licenses" was found in the house, including multiple computers, printers, laminators, and driver's license card stock with state-logo holograms, presumably a product not found at Staples.
Several boxes and bags contained U.S. Postal Service envelopes and materials, which the criminal complaint alleges the three used to mail the fake IDs after being paid in cash at a PO box at the main Charlottesville post office.
Cash seemed to be all over the house, given the varying amounts– from $24,017 to $35– listed on the inventory.
The search warrant inventory also notes a safety box key, a bag of "leafy green material," a photo of McPhee firing a weapon, and a fake Connecticut license with her photo on it.
Heaphy acknowledged that he'd never seen a fake ID ring on this scale before.