A homeless New York man who tried to use a counterfeit $20 bill to buy food and toothpaste had his sentence reduced this week to 3-6 years in prison.
The New York Supreme Court’s Appellate Division ruled on Tuesday that Levi Mitchell, a 53-year-old homeless man, had been given too harsh a sentence.
The court said in its order that it was reducing Mitchell’s prison term to 3-6 years “as a matter of discretion in the interest of justice.” Mitchell was originally sentenced to 4-8 years in prison.
The ruling explained that Mitchell was rejected by a pharmacy when he tried to use a fake $20 bill to buy toothpaste. He was then observed by police trying to buy food and was arrested. In all, five counterfeit $20 bills were recovered.
According to the court, Mitchell’s sentence had been complicated by two felony convictions that occurred over 20 years ago.
“The reduced sentence, which is the minimum permissible legal sentence, reflects an enhancement for the predicate nonviolent felony,” the court noted in its order. “His more recent convictions have all been nonviolent misdemeanors, and they are mostly related to his longtime drug addiction.”
Associate Justice Peter Tom was the sole dissenter to the ruling. Tom suggested that Mitchell did not deserve a lighter sentence because he was “actively engaged in a counterfeiting scheme” and had previous convictions.