Two confess to King of Prussia counterfeit money scam

NORRISTOWN – Cousins, one from Delaware County and another from Philadelphia, have admitted to taking part in a scheme to purchase clothes from a King of Prussia retailer by using counterfeit money.

Fateen Stokes, 27, of Winnewood Road, Philadelphia, was sentenced in Montgomery County Court on Monday to seven-to-23 months in the county jail after he pleaded guilty to a felony charge of conspiracy to engage in forgery in connection with a May 2010 incident at the Lord Taylor store at the King of Prussia mall.

Judge Thomas C. Branca, who accepted a plea agreement in the matter, also ordered Stokes to complete two years of probation after he’s paroled from jail. Stokes is eligible for the jail’s work release program.

Stokes’ cousin, Barry Stokes, 31, of the 800 block of Elisnore Place, Chester, Delaware County, was sentenced to two years’ probation after he pleaded guilty to a charge of conspiracy to engage in theft by deception in connection with the incident.

“They tried to purchase about $1,000 worth of clothes from Lord Taylor with counterfeit money,” alleged Assistant District Attorney Jeremy Abidiwan-Lupo.

Prosecutors alleged Fateen Stokes was more culpable in the crime. Fateen Stokes allegedly possessed the so-called “parent bill” from which the money was copied, according to court papers.

“It’s a scam that punishes the business because they lose the merchandise without being reimbursed,” said Abidiwan-Lupo, explaining the seriousness of such counterfeit money schemes.

Court papers indicate an investigation of the men began about 4:30 p.m. May 22, 2010, when Upper Merion police responded to the mall to investigate a complaint that counterfeit money was passed at the store by three men. As police arrived, two loss prevention agents from Lord Taylor were chasing the men on the parking lot outside the mall, according to court papers.

Loss prevention agents apprehended Fateen Stokes while police apprehended Barry Stokes, according to the arrest affidavit. A third unidentified man allegedly involved in the scam was never apprehended.

According to the arrest affidavit, the Stokes cousins and the third unidentified man had been inside the store.

“The three seemed to be selecting the merchandise without regard to price. All three males placed the merchandise on the same register,” Upper Merion Detective Andrew Rathfon alleged in the criminal complaint.

Fateen Stokes then left the store, leaving his cousin and the third male at the register with the merchandise. While Barry Stokes acted “as a lookout,” the unidentified third man pulled a large quantity of bills out of an envelope and attempted to complete the transactions, which totaled more than $1,174, according to the arrest affidavit.

When a sales associate recognized the bills were counterfeit the sale was denied and Barry Stokes and the third man abandoned the currency and fled on foot from the store, prompting the chase by loss prevention agents, court papers indicate.

During the chase, authorities noticed Fateen outside the mall in a Chevrolet Monte Carlo. As authorities escorted Fateen back into the store, they observed him throw several $50 bills under a vehicle, according to court papers.

When authorities searched Fateen Stokes they found him possessing a real $50 bill with a serial number that matched six of the counterfeit bills passed by the third, unidentified male, according to the arrest affidavit.

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