Prosecutors drop charges in smuggling of fake money

CITY/COUNTY DIGEST

City / County Digest

Baltimore & Region

November 29, 2005|By MATTHEW DOLAN | MATTHEW DOLAN,SUN REPORTER

Prosecutors in federal court decided to drop all charges yesterday against an Israeli man who had wanted to plead guilty to smuggling $1.5 million in fake U.S. currency into Maryland.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Craig Michael Wolff asked U.S. District Judge Andre M. Davis to dismiss the indictment against Hazki Hen, 65, because he is severely ill and wants to return to Israel to die.

Davis agreed with the attorneys that Hen was not well enough to enter a guilty plea, and his condition made a return to an American courtroom unlikely. "It's frankly a tough decision," Wolff said.

Hen suffers from severe problems with his liver, blood pressure and other ailments, said his attorney and supporters. A medical technician accompanied Hen from home confinement in New York.

He was indicted last November by a federal grand jury in Baltimore for allegedly importing and attempting to sell about $1.5 million in high-quality counterfeit $100 bills for 35 cents on the dollar. In discussions with an alleged accomplice and an undercover U.S. Secret Service agent, they talked about future transactions upward of $100 million, according to court records.

matthew.dolan@baltsun.com

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