Man Pleads Guilty to Selling, Importing Fakes; Impersonating Agent

ACTF plays key role in investigation and provides experts to identify fakes

Fake ATF BadgeA New Jersey man admitted June 25 to impersonating a federal agent while selling counterfeit coins and bars and unlawfully importing counterfeit coins and bars into the United States, according to U.S. Attorney Craig Carpenito.

Jonathan A. Kirschner, 34, also known as “Jonathan Kratcher,” pleaded guilty before U.S. District Judge Robert B. Kugler in Camden, N.J., federal court to one count of falsely impersonating an agent of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives (ATF) and one count of unlawfully importing counterfeit coins and bars into the United States.

According to documents filed in the case and statements made in court:

Kirschner admitted that on May 9, 2017, he sold fake gold bars to a coin collector for $11,000 in cash. Kirschner wore an ATF badge on a chain around his neck and claimed to be an ATF agent in written correspondence with the coin collector and when they met in person. Kirschner also admitted that he sold 49 counterfeit Morgan dollar coins to two people in Mt. Laurel, N.J., on June 4, 2017. Kirschner told them, “I have my badge on,” when providing descriptive information so that they could recognize Kirschner. He admitted that he pretended to be an ATF agent to put his victims at ease in purchasing what Kirschner claimed were gold coins and bar, which were in reality fake. Kirschner admitted to unlawfully bringing counterfeit coins and bars into the United States by importing multiple, falsely manifested packages from other countries, including China.

The Industry Council for Tangible Assets Anti-Counterfeiting Task Force was first to alert law enforcement about Kirschner posing as an ATF agent and selling counterfeit coins. Two people took their newly purchased Morgan dollars to a coin dealer for evaluation, only to be told they were fake. The dealer alerted ACTF, which contacted federal law enforcement. Members of ACTF also worked closely with investigating agents, providing expert identification and evaluations of the counterfeit coins and bars Kirschner imported from China and other countries.

The charge of impersonating a federal officer carries a maximum potential penalty of three years in prison and the charge of unlawful importation carries a maximum potential penalty of 15 years in prison.

Sentencing is scheduled for Oct. 1.

U.S. Attorney Carpenito credited ATF special agents, under the direction of Special Agent in Charge John B. Devito, Newark Field Division; and special agents of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI), Cherry Hill Office, under the direction of Acting Special Agent in Charge Brian A. Michael, with the investigation leading to Kirschner’s guilty plea.