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ABINGDON — A 37-year-old Hillsville woman faces 20 years in prison after pleading guilty to counterfeit check fraud in federal court Friday.
Regina Hines Hill formally entered a guilty plea to two charges placed against her as the result of an investigation conducted by members of the Secret Service and the Hillsville Police Department.
She pleaded guilty to two counts of “possessing and uttering a forged and counterfeit security of an organization,” which, according to court papers, carries with it a maximum penalty of a $250,000 fine and a 10-year prison term for each charge.
The federal grand jury charged Hill with three counts, but the third charge stating she was allegedly in possession of approximately $500,000 in forged and counterfeit cashier’s checks from Huntington National Bank, BB&T and M&T Bank on March 1 and 14 will be dropped, according to the plea agreement.
Hill faced the charges after two incidents with forged and counterfeit checks.
On Nov. 14, 2010, Hill allegedly deposited a forged and counterfeit check purporting to be from the First Hawaiian Bank online in the amount of $1,480, according to the federal indictment.
On Jan. 3, Hill allegedly deposited a forged and counterfeit check purporting to be a Fifth Third Bank cashier's check in the amount of $22,100.
A complaint made by a Roanoke-based Secret Service agent says that BB&T officials found that a $1,480 check that Hill deposited into her account was counterfeit.
Hill had withdrawn that money, but promised to pay it back to the bank, according to the complaint. She never did.
The complaint accused Hill of depositing another counterfeit check for $22,100 in January. Bank officials also contacted Hill about this check, letting her know they found it to be counterfeit.
“Investigator James Alderman of the Hillsville Police Department and I interviewed Regina Hines Hill concerning items picked up at local Walmart stores that were paid with stolen credit cards,” the Secret Service agent wrote in the report.
Hill provided a written statement that told of an online friend that had sent her a check and she deposited it.
“Hill said that after the check cleared she withdrew the money and sent it to Nigeria via Western Union,” according to court papers.
After being informed the check was a counterfeit Hill contacted the friend, identified as Tyler Gage, in California. Gage replied that that was a mistake and he would send her the money.
“Hill then agreed to pick up items, to include computers, at local Walmart stores and ship them to Nigeria for Gage,” court papers state. “Hill admitted to picking up and shipping approximately $5,000 worth of items to Nigeria.”
Investigators followed up with Hill in another interview in March about additional counterfeit checks in the case.
“Hill admitted to passing approximately $20,000 worth of checks and receiving $2,000 for her ‘work,’” court papers state. “Hill then provided over $400,000 in counterfeit cashiers checks intended to be shipped out to various individuals across the United States.”
The federal court sentencing guidelines in Hill’s case will be enhanced by the amount of money that was involved, the plea agreement states.
In the paperwork, Hill agreed to pay restitution of $23,580 to BB&T as well as other institutions.
“I agree to pay restitution for any actual losses that can be determined as a result of my shipping not less than $81,223.10 in counterfeit checks to various locations across the United States,” the agreement says.