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No jail for fake $500M reserve note

Dec. 4, 2012 at 12:55 PM

FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla., Dec. 4 (UPI) -- A Florida judge spared jail for a man who admitted to the "laughable" offense of trying to pass off a counterfeit Federal Reserve note for $500 million.

Cleland Ayison, 32, who was arrested in September 2010 for trying to pass off a fake note from the 1930s in what turned out to be an undercover sting in a Palm Beach County bank, the South Florida Sun Sentinel reported Tuesday.

Prosecutors pushed for a prison sentence at Monday's sentencing in U.S. District Judge William Dimitrouleas' Fort Lauderdale courtroom, where he faced a maximum three and a half years, but the judge said he did not think prison was appropriate.

"It becomes almost laughable," Dimitrouleas said. "To me, it doesn't promote respect for the law to send someone to prison ... for doing something so silly and outrageous."

Ayison was sentenced to six months of house arrest, five years of probation and 250 hours of community service.

Prosecutors said there is no such thing as a $500 million Federal Reserve note.

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