Brother, sister sentenced for passing counterfeit currency

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A brother and sister were sentenced Tuesday for passing counterfeit currency around southern Wisconsin, according to a release.

Danesha Phillips, 23, and Marlo Phillips, 19, both of Madison, were sentenced for passing counterfeit U.S. currency at numerous merchants in southern Wisconsin, officials said.

Danesha Phillips, who pleaded guilty on Dec. 20, was sentenced to 42 days in prison with credit for time served, according to the release. Marlo Phillips, who pleaded guilty on Dec. 9, was sentenced to one year in prison. He also got credit for time he has served since being arrested in February 2016.

Both sentences will be followed by two years of supervised release, officials said. The Phillipes were also ordered to pay $7,500 in restitution to the merchants, jointly and individually with their other co-defendants.

During January and February 2016, Danesha Phillips and Marlo Phillips traveled with three other people to various cities from Baraboo to Janesville, passing counterfeit $100 bills at restaurants and merchants, according to the release. The group made small-dollar purchases to get a large amount of change back in exchange for the fake $100 bills.

The group was apprehended on Feb. 23, 2016, by Janesville police during one of their shopping sprees when an officer responded to a report of suspicious bills, officials said.

Cornelius Stewart, 22, of Madison, was sentenced to two years in prison in February for his role as the leader of the group, according to the release.

Officials said Stewart provided the group with the counterfeit bills in return for a portion of the change they received from merchants. Dominique Gaunichaux, 19, and Parish Barbary-Wheatherby, 21, also of Madison, will be sentenced on April 6 and 28, respectively.