Federal investigators looking into the alleged Reston counterfeiting ring widened their net late last month when they arrested three recent South Lakes High School graduates, including Douglas McLaughlin-Williams, a star power forward from last year’s Seahawk varsity basketball team, on state counterfeit charges.
On Dec. 23, just two days before Christmas, authorities arrested McLaughlin-Williams, along with fellow 2003 South Lakes graduates and former Seahawk athletes, Adam John Blake and William Chandler Greene. One week later, on Dec. 30, the three 18-year-old defendants were arraigned in Fairfax County General District court on identical counterfeit charges
If convicted, the defendants, based on the state’s criminal sentencing guidelines, could each face from two to 10 years in prison after authorities charged Blake, Greene and McLaughlin-Williams with violating Virginia State Code 18.2-170, a Class 4 felony. The state law prohibits using a computer to create fraudulent and forged currency and bank notes.
All three men are scheduled to be back in court on March 3 for a preliminary hearing into the counterfeit charges.
CONTACTED ON TUESDAY, Robert F. Horan, the Commonwealth’s Attorney, who is scheduled to oversee the case, expressed surprise when hearing the news that the case had been moved to state court, rather than federal court where two other defendants in the case are facing prosecution. Horan also said it is “rare” that federal prosecutors would split the case between federal and state court. “Yes, I am very surprised that the case has been split up,” Horan said. “I sincerely hope the feds didn’t leave us three unprovable cases ... Obviously, we will look into these cases.”
Reached at his Reston home, Greene, who has yet to appoint an attorney, declined comment on the charges. John Zwerling, McLaughlin-Williams’ lawyer, could not be reached for comment. In November 2002, McLaughlin-Williams, signed a letter-of-intent to play basketball for Boston University (BU), but school officials confirmed that McLaughlin-Williams, a former standout forward, was released from his scholarship in August and he never enrolled at BU.
Danny Onorato, the attorney for Blake, said his client is doing as well as could be expected given the charges facing him and the timing of the arrests which came during the holidays. “We will take this one step at a time,” said Onorato, a Washington-based lawyer.
Todd Rich, a spokesman for the U.S. Secret Service, said the decision to split the case between the two jurisdictions was made entirely by the U.S. Attorney’s office, and said he didn’t expect any further indictments.
ALL THREE MEN were named last year in a sworn affidavit by Secret Service special agent Gregory Watson stemming from an investigation last year into allegations of a widespread counterfeit ring involving as many as eight former South Lakes students. Last summer, Blake was one of four defendants charged in Federal Court for allegedly intimidating, threatening and beating up a witness in the ongoing counterfeit investigation. But in September 2003, a federal judge threw out the case against Blake, Joseph Bleich, David Post and Trevor Harvey.
Rich, the Secret Service spokesperson, said that while the counterfeit investigation was ongoing, he believed the investigation into witness intimidation charges was complete.