December 6, 2016

The 57-year-old Texas man accused of taking about $250,000 from four people — including a Coon Rapids woman — to invest in fake foreign currency pleaded guilty Monday to four felonies in different counties.

David William Johnson was set to start the first of four trials that day but instead took a plea deal that might put him in prison for up to 10 years. As part of the deal, Johnson agrees to repay what he took from his victims from 2011 to 2014.

He had faced multiple felonies in each county with penalties of up to 25 years in prison apiece.

Johnson is a former Humboldt investment broker who convinced people to invest with the so-called International Bank of Meekamui, whose fake Bougainville Kina currency was said to double in value each month. Some believed they were billionaires.

A Coon Rapids woman, Carla Schaefer, 66, allegedly gave Johnson $150,000 to invest.

Johnson has claimed unsuccessfully that he cannot be prosecuted because he is a “sovereign citizen,” one who was born in the United States and lives here but claims to not be a U.S. citizen.

In the Carroll case, Johnson’s first court-appointed attorney withdrew because Johnson refused to admit the Bougainville Kina is a fake currency.

It’s unclear when Johnson will be sentenced.

Johnson entered an Alford plea, which means he is not admitting guilt but concedes there is sufficient evidence for a jury to convict him of the crimes.

An assistant Iowa attorney general who is prosecuting the case, Robert Sand, agreed to recommend that the punishment for Johnson’s convictions be served concurrently rather than consecutively — a difference in this case of up to 30 years in prison.

A judge will decide whether Johnson will serve time in prison, which would be up to 10 years.