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Repairman Faces Charges Of Cleaning Out Bay Area ATMs, Refilling Them With Counterfeit Bills

REDWOOD CITY (CBS SF) - It was en elaborate heist that nearly paid off, big time. An ATM repairman swapped out fake bills for real cash, police said, getting away with $200,000.

The phony $20 bills coming out of some Bank of America automated bank machines last July 4 didn't fool anyone. They were printed on a photocopier and stuffed into the ATM by a serviceman, who took the real money and fled, according to investigators.

"He went into seven of these machines, took the cash out and replaced it with counterfeit, and not sophisticated, just simply taking some bills, placing them on the Xerox machine, cut them up and put them in its place in the machines," said Steve Wagstaffe, San Mateo County District Attorney.

The real money, $200,000, was on its way out of town, along with 64-year-old service man Samuel Kioskli, police said. Two weeks ago, Kioskli, of San Francisco, was arrested in Phoenix.

He was facing charges in court in Redwood City on Wednesday for stealing from six ATMs in San Francisco and one in Daly City.

He was nabbed in a traffic stop because he ran off without telling his wife.

"Reported as a missing person, he went into the 'Wanted Persons' category. Then of course the investigation followed up and they said, 'Well maybe he isn't just a missing person.' And that's what led them to say 'Well there's a good person to target as to who might have taken the money,'" said Wagstaffe.

Wagstaffe said the customers all got their money back, but the Bank of Americas' $200,000 is all gone.

"He's not a 21-year-old. This man was in his sixties, and he suddenly decided to flee the area to go for a new life. The why of it is the answer we hope to get in the proceedings," he said. "He did get 10 months of a new life, we're not fully sure what that new life was, but it certainly satisfied him down in Arizona I guess."

Kioskli has pleaded not guilty to four felonies, including commercial burglary and embezzlement, and is being held in lieu of $25,000 bail. He'll be back in court again on May 31.

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