The New York Times published an obituary of counterfeiter Louis Colavecchio
In 1996, just after he was arrested by Secret Service agents and New Jersey gaming troopers at Caesars Palace in Atlantic City, Louis Colavecchio laughed.
His red Honda, loaded up with nearly 800 pounds of high-quality counterfeit slot machine tokens, had easily made its way into the casino's parking garage because of modifications to its trunk. But a New Jersey trooper's Buick cruiser, now hauling the bogus tokens in its trunk, was not so lucky.
Sagging under the weight of the coins, the rear of the police car dropped when it hit a speed bump, and its muffler and tailpipe were knocked off. As he recalled in his memoir, "You Thought It Was More: Adventures of the World's Greatest Counterfeiter" (2015), Mr. Colavecchio, riding in the back seat, chuckled at the trooper's misfortune.
For Mr. Colavecchio, a craftsman and former jewelry maker, there was nothing more thrilling than creating counterfeit slot machine coins. The coins he made were so detailed that even federal officials and casino workers found it challenging to distinguish his fakes from legitimate ones under a microscope.
Casino officials were often too embarrassed to admit that they had been swindled by Mr. Colavecchio, said Franz Douskey, his friend and the other co-author of his memoir. He was barred from every casino in the country, The Associated Press reported. Nonetheless, he had disguises that he used to outwit pursuers.
Though available court records give an incomplete picture, they show that over the decades Mr. Colavecchio faced a series of charges, including bank, mortgage and insurance fraud. But counterfeiting was his calling card.
In 1997, he was sentenced to 27 months in prison for his phony casino coins. In 2019, he was sentenced to 15 months, this time for producing thousands of counterfeit $100 bills.
"They call it a correctional institute, but they didn't correct him," Mr. Douskey said in a phone interview.
All of Mr. Colavecchio's work was meticulous. He could toil alone under microscopes for days, filled by a desire to trick the federal government and the casinos. He would not brook the possibility of an error; each die had to be perfect.
"Making counterfeit items must have appealed to me in some way that I didn't understand," Mr. Colavecchio wrote in his book.
Mr. Colavecchio perfected his illicit craft over about four years, Mr. Longo said, making thousands of chips and slot tokens for 36 casinos. At one point, the Treasury Department even sought his expertise. According to court records, the department paid him $18,000 after he was released from federal prison in 2000 because his manufacturing dies had outlasted those of the U.S. Mint.
His tokens were masterly because he crushed the originals and got the exact breakdown of their composition, Mr. Longo said. Mr. Colavecchio purchased the material, bought a press and, using a laser-cutting die, made molds and copies.
"It's like having access to the U.S. Mint on the weekend, printing your money and leaving," Mr. Longo said.
To read the complete article, see:
Louis Colavecchio, Master Counterfeiter, Is Dead at 78
To read earlier E-Sylum articles, see:
COUNTERFEIT KING'S COIN PRESS TO BE AUCTIONED
COUNTERFEIT KING'S HISTORY CHANNEL SEGMENT
Wayne Homren, Editor
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