Southern California thief Ali Bailey must be asking himself a nagging question after the U.S. Secret Service filed charges against him: How could I be so dumb?
Bailey decided to spend a Feb. 19, 2014, evening shopping at Costa Mesa's South Coast Plaza, where he bought $1,624 in merchandise from Saks Fifth Avenue and $600 in merchandise at Nordstrom.
The man with a New York state driver's license probably felt a wonderful sensation walking out of the mall with stuffed bags.
Bailey duped store employees by handing them more than $2,200 in counterfeit $50s.
This crook apparently didn't want the merchandise and he didn't want to sell it on the black market for pennies on the dollar either.
Ignorant that store managers eventually realized the deception using "point of sale monitoring" software and matched the transactions to surveillance camera images, Bailey decided the second stage of his win-win scenario would be to return the stolen merchandise in exchange for genuine, Ulysses S. Grant federal reserve notes.
Instead of returning to the scene of the crime in Orange County, he entered the Saks in Beverly Hills the next day with the refund heist in mind and unaware that on-the-ball store security had already issued a company-wide alert.
I wish I could see footage of a shocked Bailey unsuccessfully trying to outrun pursuing officers with the Beverly Hills Police Department.
He possessed an additional $900 in fake $50s (all bearing the same serial number and missing obvious security features) at his apprehension.
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A handcuffed Bailey--who was born in 1987--arrived in court on March 31 in a jail jumpsuit, faced a rightfully unsympathetic federal prosecutor, admitted guilt and declined U.S. Magistrate Judge Douglas F. McCormick's offer to read his crimes in open court.
He faces a maximum punishment of 20 years in prison and a $250,000 fine, though he'll likely serve no more than a couple of years incarcerated after an as-yet-to-be scheduled sentencing hearing with U.S. District Court Judge Josephine L. Staton inside the Ronald Reagan Federal Courthouse in Santa Ana.