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Sour note not sweet music for fraud perpetrator

By Paula McMahon, Sun Sentinel –

FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. — A man who claimed he had a $500,000,000 Federal Reserve note could face a lengthy prison sentence and deportation after he pleaded guilty Friday in federal court in Fort Lauderdale.

Cleland Ayison, 32, was arrested after he was secretly recorded trying to pass off a fake document he said was a U.S. Treasury bond from the 1930s, said his lawyer Alex Stavrou. Federal prosecutors said there is no such thing as a genuine half-billion dollar Federal Reserve note.

Ayison, who lives in the Tampa Bay area, admitted that he flew to Palm Beach County in September 2010 and tried to hand over the note in a bank vault at an undisclosed location in the county. Ayison did not make any money on the deal, which was intended to boost a company’s stock, though he expected to eventually receive about $100,000 worth of stock in the company, which prosecutors declined to identify.

It turned out that Ayison was the subject of an undercover sting because federal agents got a tip he had claimed he had large treasury notes and set up the meeting with individuals who were cooperating with the feds. The maximum punishment for the crime is 25 years in prison and a fine of up to $250,000.

Ayison, who was born in Ghana but has permanent resident status in the U.S., said he earned a degree in theology and philosophy before working in various sales jobs.

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