Stuck Inside Of Mobile with the Holiday Inn Blues Again

October 16, 2018

On October 15, 2018, Christopher M. Tanner was sentenced in the United States District Court for the Southern District of Alabama to 18 months in prison; and ordered to forfeit all items used to facilitate his crime, and to pay $80 in restitution to the Holiday Inn on Highway 90 Mobile, Alabama and to pay $50.00 restitution to Burger King Theodore Dawes Road, Theodore, Alabama. 

$80 to the Mobile Holiday Inn?

$50 to Burger King? 

And this all became a federal crime how? 

For no particular reason, today I offer you a riff. Proust had his bite of a lousy Madeleine and I had the whiff of Christopher M. Tanner pleading guilty to counterfeiting United States currency. No pile of dead bodies. Not so much as a hint of a violent crime. Instead, we got funny money. Bogus bills. Counterfeit currency. We got a pair of shoes. Banality at its best (or worst). On the other hand, we got Highway 90 (maybe near to Highway 61) and we got Mobile, Alabama, which reminded me of Bob Dylan's Stuck Inside of Mobile with the Memphis Blues Again, which took me back to my teenage years in the Sixties. So, as I begin to draw circles up and down the block, and you ask me what the matter was, please be patient as today's Blog unwinds. If you're lucky, you'll get answers to all your questions after only one read. If you don't sit so patiently, you may wind up waiting to find out what price you have to pay to get out of going through all these things twice. 

Let me take you back only a short ways in time to January 4, 2018,  to DeRidder, Louisiana, where we find Christopher Tanner attempting to pay his Beauregard Electric bill with two counterfeit $20 dollar bills mixed in with genuine U.S. currency.  At some point, the DeRidder police arrive and ask Chris about the funny money. He says he didn't know it was fake. The police accepted his answer and he was allowed to get on with his business. And get on he did.

Next, we arrive at January 29, 2018, where we come across Chris and his wife, Debbie Tanner, checking into the Holiday Inn on Highway 90 in Mobile, Alabama.  Any hows, we got the Tanners stuck inside of Mobile at the Holiday Inn and they pay $80 for their room. Go figure -- the Tanners paid with counterfeit bills. At some point in time, the astute staff at the Mobile Holiday Inn spotted the bad paper and called the fuzz, who arrive and, bless 'em, they read Chris his Miranda Rights

After the legal niceties were observed, the local constabulary asked Chris, point blank, if he had paid for the room with counterfeit currency. Chris said that he paid for the room with cash that he got from a purported business transaction from a fellow whose name he didn't catch -- and, omigod, you mean to tell me that I got counterfeit bills from that guy? 

You'd think that with a story like that, Mr. Tanner is gonna be stuck inside of Mobile for some time. Sure enough, the police told Tanner that he would be transported to the Financial Crimes Unit of the Mobile Police Department.  Upon learning that he was being taken downtown, Tanner asked the officers if they would retrieve a pair of shoes from his hotel room for him. Not exactly Shakespeare in the alley with his pointed shoes and his bells but, you know, close enough.

Apparently proponents of both "protect" and "serve," the friendly Mobile cops went to the Tanners' hotel room and knocked on the door.  They didn't break it down. They didn't kick it in. They knocked . . . and waited for someone, likely Mrs. Tanner, to answer. After waiting about five minutes, lo and behold, Mrs. Tanner opens the hotel room door at which point the officers asked for a pair of shoes for her husband. While the police were waiting outside, they heard what they believed to be the top of a printer closing and crumbling paper. Not to be too cynical here but ummm, really? You can hear a printer being closed and paper crumbling from outside a hotel room? On the other hand, we do have some truly compassionate cops retrieving Chris Tanner's shoes, so I'm going to give them the benefit of the doubt. 

By the way, what would the sound of shoes being retrieved sound like if you were standing outside a hotel room?

Then again, I'm not quite sure why Chris was walking around the Holiday Inn without shoes on when he was arrested but that may be a whole other story for another day. 

When Mrs. Tanner returned to the front door of the hotel room with her husband's shoes, an officer asked if she was alone in the room and if he could conduct a safety check of the room. A "safety check?" What the hell is a safety check in terms of asking for a pair of shoes? Oh well, you know me, if nothing else, I'm ever the lawyer. In any event, Mrs. Tanner consented to the safety check.  If only she had said "no." If only she looked the police in the eyes and sang to them: "Your debutante just knows what you need, but I know what you want." If only Mrs. Tanner had planted herself firmly in the hotel room doorway and said, hell no, you boys ain't comin' in here for no security check. Not without no damn search warrant you ain't. But Mrs. Tanner didn't object. And the cops not only got what they wanted but what they needed.

Once inside the room and diligently going about their safety checking, the cops noticed two printers and a pack of paper inside the room. Poor Mrs. Tanner was then detained. At some point, a search warrant was obtained to allow the search of the Tanners' hotel room and their vehicle. How did the safety search of the room yield a search warrant for the vehicle, you ask -- great question! You clearly watch a lot of Law & Order. Turns out, the police just happened to see a package of printer paper in plain view through the vehicle's windows. Go figure -- sitting right out in the open for all to see a potentially incriminating pack of paper. Armed with the search warrants, the police seized:
  • printers; 
  • computers; 
  • $429.00 cash that include the parent notes used to produce counterfeit federal reserve notes; 
  • $8,890.00 in counterfeited U.S. Currency; 
  • 19 bleached genuine $1 federal reserve notes; 
  • a notebook containing notes on security information of U.S. currency;
  •  a pack of printer paper; and 
  • a can of oven cleaner.
The oven cleaner? I had no idea about that but I looked it up. You can scrub off the printing on $1s, $5s, and $10s with corn starch or Easy Off oven cleaner and use the blank paper to reprint them as $20s or $100s.

The computers proved to be a bonanza! The Mobile police got additional search warrants for the seized computers and found on the drives 44 images of counterfeit currency; 20 images of driver's licenses from various states; and an internet history displaying downloads and searches for items related to manufacturing counterfeit currency and documents.   

Remember that January 4th encounter with the police when Chris wasn't arrested? Remember all that stuff that went on with shoeless Chris at the Holiday Inn in Mobile on January 29th? Well, I sort of figured that Chris was thrown into the old Mobile slammer on January 29th but, what the hell do I know. If he was arrested, it seems like he was released on bail or personal recognizance. He didn't hang around Mobile for long.

On March 14, 2018, we find Chris Tanner in the DeRidder, Louisiana, Walmart and, surprise, surprise surprise, he's purchasing merchandise with counterfeited $20 bills. The whole funny money transaction was captured on Walmart's security camera video. On March 17, 2018, Christopher Tanner was arrested in DeRidder for possessing, passing, and attempting to pass counterfeit currency; and, on that same date, a search warrant was executed at a hotel room he was staying in. Chris apparently had his shoes on. The items seized during that search included: 
  • about $18,130 in counterfeit U.S. currency; 
  • a Blackberry tablet; 
  • a Verizon tablet; 
  • an HP Laptop computer.   
How did Christopher Tanner wind up not getting stuck inside of Mobile on January 29th but getting caught inside of DeRidder on March 17th? I ain't even going to guess. Chris did wind up pleading out in October 2018 in federal court in Alabama, so I'm guessing the gravitational pull of Mobile was such that, try as he might, he could not escape. Oh, momma, can this really be the end? 

If you'd like to take a shot at deciphering the dates and events, READ:

Full Text "Factual Resume" portion of the Plea Agreement

Mobile County Man Receives 18 Month Sentence for Making Counterfeit United States Currency, Ordered to Pay $130.00 Restitution and All Items Used to Facilitate the Crime Were Forfeited (DOJ Release) 

"Counterfeit money found on Saturday in a hotel room in DeRidder." (Beauregard Daily News, March 20, 2018) [with mug shots of Christopher and  Debbie Tanner -- him smiling; she, not so much]

And of course, what song could be more perfect to play us off?