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A former employee of a plant that makes more than half of America’s paper money pleaded guilty Wednesday to taking stolen cash across state lines. Donald Edward Stokes Jr., 39, also had been charged with stealing $30,000 from the U.S. Bureau of Engraving and Printing Western Currency Facility in Fort Worth. But as part of a plea deal, federal prosecutors dropped the theft of government property charge, which carried a maximum 10-year sentence. Stokes faces up to 10 years in federal prison without parole when he is sentenced in October for interstate transportation of stolen property. His trial on both charges had been set for next week. Stokes confessed after his arrest in Oklahoma City in April, nearly three weeks after he fled when federal authorities found stolen money at his home, according to the Secret Service. Stokes, who has been in custody since his arrest, worked for more than a decade at the plant, one of only two that produces U.S. paper money. Authorities say Stokes stole more than $600,000 over seven years by regularly stuffing his pockets with folded sheets of $20 or $50 bills. The bills were flawed and had been marked for destruction, but the money still had value and was usable. When Stokes was arrested in Oklahoma City after a routine traffic stop, officers found about $80,000 in the car, including about $30,000 from the plant, authorities said. They believe the rest was from gambling winnings in Las Vegas. Stokes told investigators he used much of the money for gambling and also bought a Lincoln he claimed was once owned by rapper MC Hammer, prosecutor Bret Helmer said. Stokes initially said he started stealing several times a month because he was demoted after a 2002 assault arrest, but he later said the theft began four or five years earlier, investigators said. Copyright 2005 Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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