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SUSPECT DENIES ROLE IN PRINTING $1 MILLION IN FAKE BILLS

A Wheatfield printer told a federal jury late Friday that he had nothing to do with a plan to print almost $1 million in counterfeit $20 bills last year.

Appearing in his own defense in a trial before U.S. District Judge John T. Elfvin, Slade Sharpstein, 28, denied allegations made by two other Niagara County men who already have made guilty pleas in the case.

Sharpstein is accused of conspiracy and counterfeiting in the case uncovered in May 1988 when $975,000 of the bogus bills were sold to an undercover agent of the U.S. Secret Service in Niagara Falls.

Timothy Divita, 42, of Newfane and Jesse Best IV, 31, of Ransomville already have pleaded guilty to counterfeiting charges. Both have testified against Sharpstein. As part of his plea bargain, Divita allowed agents to make recordings of a telephone conversation he had with Sharpstein last July.

Sharpstein said the counterfeiting was Divita's idea and never involved him.

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