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Three charged in counterfeit ring

Federal prosecutors filed a complaint Tuesday against three people in connection with a counterfeit ring that flooded the Oklahoma City area with fake $100 bills.

The charge was filed against John Anthony Erwin, 37, and Eva Olgein, 39, both of Arizona, and Ben Granillo, 53, of Chicago. Granillo previously had used the alias Rick George, according to a U.S. Secret Service document.

The three are accused of conspiring to participate in a counterfeiting scheme from July 2001 until their arrest Friday. The conspiracy allegedly featured Granillo's purchase of 180 $5 bills in the Shangri-La Resort area at Grand Lake on March 12.

The complaint alleges that the defendants conspired to wash the $5 bills in bleach to remove the ink, used a computer scanner to scan a genuine $100 bill to act as a template and then used a computer to print $100 bills onto what had been $5 bills.

According to a Secret Service affidavit, agents executing a search warrant Friday recovered 28 counterfeit $100s from an apartment where the trio were staying in Afton. The document says the Secret Service office in Oklahoma City has recovered 44 counterfeit $100 bills that are ``identical'' to the bills found at the Afton apartment.

The Secret Service office in Phoenix has collected 49 counterfeit $100 bills that ``have many matching characteristics'' to the notes found in Afton, the affidavit says.

Erwin was charged Jan. 23 in federal court in Arizona with passing counterfeit bills. An affidavit filed in that case indicates he was suspected of passing counterfeit $100 bills that allegedly had been printed on bleached $5 bills.

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