Meth habit spurred fake money
Crystal meth addiction led to a woman’s involvement in a scheme with several people last year to produce counterfeit money.
On Tuesday, 26-year-old Melissa Ann Heather Patterson exchanged emotional embraces with family members before she was taken away to begin serving her first jail sentence.
During the afternoon appearance at Regina Provincial Court, Patterson pleaded guilty to a variety of offences pertaining to making, possessing and uttering counterfeit currency as well as possessing a variety of drugs and two stun guns.
After hearing submissions from Crown and defence counsel, Judge Marylynne Beaton agreed to impose the jointly suggested sentence of six months in jail, to be followed by one year probation. The probation period includes conditions intended to help Patterson address her drug problem.
Court heard Patterson had been a heavy crystal meth user at the time of the offences — so heavy that, despite her co-operation with the police investigation, she was unable to say on exactly what dates the offences had occurred, providing a date range of July 11 to 30.
Crown prosecutor Derek Maher said Patterson had gone to the home of an acquaintance where they discussed how to go about getting more money. The topic of printing their own bills came up and when Patterson went back to the house some time later, the resident and another man were printing Canadian $20 bills.
Patterson noted the bills were poor quality and she told them so.
The trio (who were later joined by a fourth person) continued to work at it, eventually moving the small operation to a hotel.
While they got a little better — Patterson found paper that roughly matched the texture of cash and was able to fit three bills on a page for printing purposes — the operation was far from sophisticated. Court heard they used a printer purchased at Wal-Mart and standard scissors to cut out the fake bills.
Each of the four received a stack of phoney currency, although one of the men helped himself to some of Patterson’s.
Patterson later used a fake $50 American bill to buy a couple of drinks at a Moose Jaw lounge, pocketing the legitimate change.
It didn’t take police long to catch wind of it and, on Sept. 22, a joint task force consisting of RCMP and Regina Police Service members obtained a search warrant for Patterson’s Regina home. The search turned up fake currency, two stun guns and a quantity of drugs.
Defence lawyer Carson Demmans said the stun guns were easily purchased online by a friend on Patterson’s behalf, as she had been having trouble with a stalker and there were concerns for her safety.
Patterson had a limited criminal record and had never before received a jail term.
“I just want to say I’m really sorry ...,” she said tearfully before sentence was passed. “I didn’t realize how my actions would affect my family.”
Several of the others charged remain before the court.
“I DIDN’T REALIZE HOW MY ACTIONS WOULD AFFECT
MY FAMILY.” MELISSA ANN HEATHER