Man admits to running check counterfeiting scheme

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TRENTON, N.J. — A northern New Jersey man has admitted running a counterfeiting scheme that deposited 300 bogus checks across four states.

Harold Stephens, of Elizabeth, pleaded guilty Friday to theft by deception and money laundering.

Acting Attorney General John Hoffman says Stephens was the ringleader of a $1.6 million counterfeiting ring that used a graphics program to create phony checks. Stephens and others then stole roughly $620,000 by withdrawing funds before the banks discovered the fraud.

Prosecutors say the ring targeted banks with customer-friendly policies to turn the fake checks into cash.

Stephens faces 11 years overall when he’s sentenced March 14. He and two other defendants will also be responsible for $620,000 in restitution.

Hoffman says the trio essentially printed money through the ring.