Fake ID trio remanded; feds say Rugby house held $1.3 million in cash

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Alan Jones, Mark Bernardo, and Kelly McPhee appeared in court and pled guilty to manufacturing fake IDs. Contributed photos. Alan Jones, Mark Bernardo, and Kelly McPhee appeared in court and pled guilty to manufacturing fake IDs. Contributed photos.

All three Charlottesville residents arrested last week for allegedly manufacturing thousands of fake IDs will remain in jail for the foreseeable future after each waived the right to a bail hearing in federal court Thursday afternoon. Meanwhile, details continue to emerge about the raid on a Rugby Road house that led to their arrests, including news of $1.3 million in cash taken from a safe and an inventory of 18 handguns, shotguns, semi-automatic assault rifles, and other weapons seized by feds.

Alan Jones, Mark Bernardo, and Kelly McPhee went before U.S. Magistrate Judge B. Waugh Crigler in back-to-back proceedings—the trio’s second court appearance since their arrests. They are all accused of multiple fraud counts, and face between 35 and 55 years in jail and fines of up to $750,000. While no future court dates have been set, U.S. Attorney Timothy J. Heaphy said his office is still gathering evidence, and expects to announce whether there will be trials or plea deals in the case within 30 days.

Jones has hired David Heilberg of Charlottesville defense firm Dygert, Wright, Hobbs & Heilberg, and McPhee has retained Andrew Sneathern of Sneathern & L’Hospital. Bernardo, who admitted to recently purchasing a Cadillac with $50,000 cash through a straw buyer, claimed indigency and is being represented by Frederick T. Heblich, assistant federal public defender in charge of the Charlottesville and Harrisonburg Division.

A number of McPhee’s friends and family were again looking on in the courtroom. Across the aisle from them sat Bernardo’s mother and two sisters, well-dressed New Yorkers whom Heblich said had traveled to Charlottesville in a show of support for his client. Bernardo’s mother wept silently into a tissue when her son was led out of court.

If Jones had family watching, they weren’t identified. He may end up relying on some outside support, however. Heaphy raised doubts about the 31-year-old University of Alabama graduate’s ability to afford his high-priced lawyer.

“I understand Mr. Heilberg is very expensive,” Heaphy said in his address to the judge, and investigators may question Jones’ sources of income, having already seized four bank accounts under various aliases believed to contain profits from a massive illegal ID manufacturing business.

“I’m uncertain of a legitimate source of income for Mr. Jones for a very long time,” Heaphy said.

For now, though, Heilberg remains Jones’ attorney of record. And more information about just how profitable the fake ID factory was are coming to light.

After leaving the courtroom, Heaphy said the amount of money seized in the wake of the raid is now up to $2 million, including $1.3 million in cash found in a safe in the Rugby Road house.

An inventory of other items taken from house released earlier this week along with the warrant issued ahead of the bust reveals feds found 18 firearms there, including handguns, a shotgun, and at least two semiautomatic assault rifles.

Also seized, according to the inventory, were a taser, numerous computers, cell phones, bags and binders of fake drivers licenses from all over the country, sheets of holograms used to manufacture the IDs, a bag of “green leafy plant like material,” a fake Connecticut license with McPhee’s picture, and photographs of McPhee firing a gun.

Heaphy wouldn’t comment on what agents have learned about the origin of the weapons cache, or whether the defendants are suspected of selling guns. And while he said he expects to file more charges, he wouldn’t say whether any other individuals are believed to have been involved in the fake ID ring.

And while he wouldn’t say whether more people are believed to have been involved, Heaphy said investigators are still tracking down leads.

“There’s a lot more to come in this case,” he said.

 

  • BillyBobCornhole

    F***ing Alabama, they always win.

  • Bart

    Let’s not start any sob stories about the chick. She is a common crook. Females in this town always want to cut a chick the slack – claiming dumbness, and make the guys the fall guys.

  • globe

    These are non-violent criminals and don’t really deserve to be in jail. The other non-violent criminals are the many UVA students who gladly utilized their non-violent services. lets hope the “johns” also get their measure of justice.

  • NotToBeTakenLightly

    In summary: Non-violet, so what!!!? They broke the law. We all pay taxes to not only protect us, but also to sustain the infrastructure that prevents criminal activity. I hate to see the over simplification of this case by some people. The bottom line is, they all deserve to face to consequences of their CRIMINAL and greedy actions. If they are to be considered “nice, white, middle-class” people, they should also be considered as individuals that obviously understood the extent of their actions and the criminal implication. So, that, in my opinion makes it all the worse. Because it displays contempt for society in general. It is not like what they did can be written-off as some kind of desperate act, but rather just self-serving greed and contempt for everyone else who works hard. I hope that the legal system and those who represent it have enough self-respect, and respect for the system that they represent to wield the full weight of the law on them all! No plea bargains. Do the crime = serve the time!!

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