Son of 'King of Counterfeit' blames dad for life of crime
BY FRANK MAIN Staff Reporter Oct 23, 2010
One of the computers belonging to Arthur Williams III contained photos of him posing with his finished counterfeit bills, according to federal authorities.
The son of the "King of Counterfeit" is begging for leniency from a federal judge.
That's after following in his father's footsteps and getting busted for making bogus bills -- twice in the last two years.
Arthur Williams III, 20, was arrested last year on charges he sold $6,400 in counterfeit bills to a government informant. A Secret Service agent said he manufactured at least $248,000 in fake bills, based on counterfeit currency recovered across the country.
Williams' dad, Art Williams Jr., has been dubbed the "King of Counterfeit" for his career of making funny money.
After finishing a three-year prison term for making fake bills in Alaska, he was featured in a profile by Rolling Stone magazine in 2005. The next year, the Bridgeport native was busted again in Chicago for counterfeiting.
His son has gravitated to the same line of work -- even though his mother is a Chicago cop, according to court records. Prosecutors said the younger Williams gloried in his status as a counterfeiter, even recording a song called "Mr. Counterfeit" with these lyrics:
I'm sick of these counterfeit wannabes
Our money's the real thing, ya'll know who I mean
So please get right Mr. Writer who wrote the Rolling Stone Magazine.
In an Oct. 8 letter to U.S. District Judge Amy St. Eve, the son said he was just 10 years old when he first saw his father making counterfeit currency. He said he started taking drugs and was 14 when he helped his dad with counterfeiting.
"One year later, my father would once again get arrested due to me throwing $1,400 in counterfeit at a Chicago Police officer," he told the judge. "I don't know if it was a cry for help or if it was the amount of stress I was under."
After he was charged with counterfeiting in July 2009, the younger Williams was released on bail to the custody of his mother, court records show.
But authorities say the son went right back to making counterfeit currency. This year, an informant told federal agents he bought between $5,000 and $10,000 in counterfeit currency from Williams III. Authorities said they searched an apartment where he was staying and found more than 10 sheets of counterfeit $50 bills. He's accused of making at least $62,700 while he was on bail.
Williams usually charged customers $20 for every fake $100 bill, authorities say.
His bills, which he made with a commercial-grade Canon printer, appeared genuine when tested with commonly used counterfeit-detection pens. Still, the fake currency was not "good quality," said Derrick Golden, a Secret Service agent for 15 years who said he has never heard of a son learning the counterfeiting trade from his father.
Now, the U.S. attorney's office is seeking to boost the potential sentence for Arthur Williams III, who has pleaded guilty to counterfeiting. Under federal guidelines, he initially faced a sentence of 37 to 41 months in prison. But prosecutors say he now faces at least 63 months behind bars because of his continued criminal activity after he was freed on bail.
In his letter to the judge, the younger Williams asked for mercy, seeking a sentence in the lower range of 37 to 41 months, saying: "I went back to the only way I knew how to support myself."
But in a court filing, prosecutors countered: "Williams' father did not cause him to manufacture more counterfeit while on bond or to ignore this court's orders."
Sentencing is scheduled for Nov. 4.