A participant in one of the most notorious counterfeit coupon schemes in recent years has been ordered to serve out his sentence, after a federal judge denied his request for an early release.

46-year-old Pacifico Talens of Virginia Beach is serving a sentence of seven years and three months, for assisting his wife Lori Ann Talens in a scheme to create and sell tens of millions of dollars worth of fraudulent coupons. He’s since made two requests for an early release, the first of which the judge in his case has now denied.

His first request was made a mere seven months into his sentence, when he claimed that he suffered medical conditions that put him at risk of contracting Covid while incarcerated. His next request came a year and a half later, when he argued that a recent change in federal sentencing guidelines made him eligible for a reduced sentence.

The judge has now ruled on the first request, in a manner that doesn’t look for the second.

Talens, you may remember, was charged, convicted and sentenced back in 2021 for his role in his wife’s $31 million counterfeit coupon scheme. Following an investigation by the FBI & U.S. Postal Inspection service, supported by the Coupon Information Corporation, Lori Ann Talens was convicted of designing and printing her own counterfeit coupons, which she sold online. Pacifico Talens was found to have helped by testing the coupons in stores to make sure they worked, giving some to his work colleagues, and mailing packages to buyers. While he was not the mastermind of the operation, prosecutors said he “was essential in the successful operation of the fraud scheme” and “shared in its rewards.”

In considering his request for compassionate release, the judge noted that a defendant must cite “extraordinary and compelling reasons,” and Talens did not meet that burden. His “medical conditions do not make him particularly susceptible to contracting COVID-19 during his incarceration,” the judge ruled.

In addition, his “lengthy criminal history weighs against his premature release,” the judge continued. In his separate request for a reduced sentence, Talens had argued that “a minor misdemeanor legal situation” more than a decade ago subjected him to a longer sentence than he might otherwise have received, and that a recent revision in sentencing guidelines should make him eligible for a lesser sentence.


The $31 million in losses to various manufacturers did not constitute a “substantial financial hardship” to his victims, he claimed, since they are “huge multi-billion dollar corporations” and his actions did not affect “any specific individual’s lives in any substantial way whatsoever.”

While the judge has not ruled on that specific request, his decision on the compassionate release request did not make a reduced sentence look particularly likely. Talens actually “has a history of arrests and disobeying the law,” the judge pointed out, “and the existing sentence promotes the goal of deterring Defendant from further criminal violations.”

The judge also did not appear to have much sympathy for Talens’s position that his crime was not so bad. “Pacifico Talens willfully participated in testing, shipping, and using the coupons, and profited from the overall scheme,” the judge’s ruling reads. “The scheme resulted in significant losses and the financial impact of the case is an estimated $31,817,997.05.”

The severity of the crime, coupled with the fact that Talens’s sentence was already well below the potential maximum sentence of 20 years imprisonment, “weighs against Talens’s release,” the judge concluded in denying the request.

Lori Ann Talens is awaiting a ruling on her own request for a reduced sentence. She’s currently serving 12 years behind bars, but argued that her status as a nonviolent first-time criminal offender should make her eligible for a shorter sentence. The judge had already denied her earlier request to reduce or defer the amount she needed to pay toward settling her $31 million restitution order.

In denying Pacifico Talens’s motion, the judge’s decision boiled down to “don’t do the crime if you can’t do the time.” Talens had served only a fraction of his 87-month sentence when he made his first request for an early release. In his second request, he said he had learned from his mistakes and had “spent a great amount of time thinking about what I did wrong.”

The judge says he’ll need to spend a few more years doing some more thinking. When imposing a punishment, the ruling explained, the court must consider the need for a sentence “to reflect the seriousness of the offense, to promote respect for the law, and to provide just punishment for the offense, to afford adequate deterrence to criminal conduct, to protect the public from further crimes of the defendant, and to provide the defendant with needed educational or vocational training, medical care, or other correctional treatment in the most effective manner.” Talens’s sentence, the judge determined, addresses all of those needs.

Since their cases concluded, the Talens have not gone quietly. Each has made a number of requests for leniency, and Lori Ann Talens even participated in an interview for a TV documentary about her case. So far, though, their sentences stand, meaning they’ll each have many more years behind bars to think about their crimes – and many more millions of dollars to pay back when they get out.

Image source: FBI

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