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An Edmonton man who manufactured small amounts of counterfeit currency will not be sent to jail for the crime.

Court of King’s Bench Janice Ashcroft on Friday sentenced Adam Bengry to 16 months house arrest after finding him guilty of three counterfeiting and forgery offences.

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Ashcroft concluded the 43-year-old’s risk of reoffending is low and that allowing him to serve a conditional sentence in the community would properly denounce the crime and deter others.

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Bengry was arrested after his then-spouse reported finding counterfeit currency printed on polymer paper in her home on Dec. 9, 2020. Investigators also found a USB stick with bill templates, a forged driver’s licence and a fake Indian status card for a person who does not exist.

Bengry, who was out on bail, spent Friday’s hearing in the prisoner’s dock, shaking his head and mouthing his disagreement as Crown prosecutor Janet Valel asked Ashcroft to impose an 18-month jail sentence.

Given the chance to speak, Bengry said he plans to appeal his conviction and disputed the Crown’s claim that he had not attempted to find employment while on release.

He also claimed he was “never given a chance to speak to any of this evidence.”

The exact amount Bengry counterfeited was not discussed in court, though Ashcroft said the face value and number of bills were “quite low.” They were printed on polymer paper with printers of the “household variety,” and investigators found only one bill had been passed as currency.

Valel painted Bengry’s operation as one with a “degree of sophistication” that risked harm to the local and even national economy — especially small businesses, which have no way to recoup losses if they accept fake bills. She noted the maximum sentence for counterfeiting is 14 years in prison, and said jail time was appropriate in Bengry’s case.

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Valel argued there were no mitigating factors that supported a less severe sentence, saying Bengry’s lack of a criminal record was only “neutral.” She also pointed to a pre-sentence report which suggested he had done little to seek employment or treatment while on release.

Defence lawyer Michael Andrawis requested a conditional sentence order. He said his client grew up in poverty and was in the depths of gambling and methamphetamine addiction when he committed the crimes amidst the financial uncertainty of the COVID pandemic.

Andrawis also disputed the Crown’s claims about Bengry’s time on release, noting he has attended more than a dozen sessions of addictions counselling and actively sought employment.

He also disagreed with the Crown about the quality of the fake money Bengry produced.

“When one looks at the bills, I think it’s clearly impossible that anyone out in the marketplace could look at that … and think it was something that could be accepted as legitimate currency,” he said.

Ashcroft agreed, calling the operation “amateurish and unsophisticated.”

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She said that while there may be issues with Bengry’s “attitude and lack of insight” since his arrest, he has no history of disobeying court orders.

The conditional sentence makes a number of exceptions for when Bengry may be out of his house. Ashcroft stressed to Bengry that if he does not abide by his conditions, he could be sent to jail to serve the remainder of his sentence.

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