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Artist sentenced in counterfeit money scheme

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JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – A Wellington artist was sentenced to five years in federal prison Monday for conspiracy to deal in counterfeit Federal Reserve notes, for his role in helping to make counterfeit $50 and $100 bills.

According to the State Attorney's Office, 41-year-old Jean Phineas Losier was convicted by a federal jury in Jacksonville in June and is also facing counterfeit manufacturing charges in the Southern District of Florida.

Officials said that Losier started making the counterfeit bills and began a business relationship with his co-defendant Mercury Thompson and other people to sell and use the counterfeit bills.

In January of 2014, Secret Service agents executed search warrants at an apartment in Wellington where Losier was making the fake notes and seized manufacturing devices, bleached $1 bills, chemicals and chemical residue, agents said.

Detailed molds and templates of U.S. security watermarks that Losier had made were found in the apartment. Images showing every step of the manufacturing process were also found and were matched to seized counterfeit bills that were used across Jacksonville in April and May of 2010.

Forensic comparison of the images also matched $4,200 of counterfeit $100 bills seized from a rental vehicle that Thompson was using in July of 2012, and $10,000 in $100 counterfeit notes that another person had purchased from Losier in January 2014.

According to Secret Service forensic examiners, the value of the counterfeit bills passed throughout south and middle Florida since late 2008 is more than $3.5 million.

Forensic examiners said that worldwide, $4.3 million of Losier's counterfeit bills had also been passed and that after Losier was arrested in January, the passing of the counterfeit cash stopped almost entirely.

Thompson pleaded guilty on May 8, and was later sentenced to three years in federal prison for his role in the conspiracy.

The United States Secret Service, the Jacksonville Sheriff's Office, the Delray Beach Police Department, the Boynton Beach Police Department and the Boca Raton Police Department all helped investigate the case.