Woman sentenced in Phoenix fake coupon ring

PHOENIX (AP) -- A Phoenix woman who pleaded guilty to her involvement in a fake coupon ring was sentenced Thursday to two years in prison and may have to pay up to $5 million in restitution.

Robin Ramirez, 41, also was sentenced to seven years of probation and credited with 287 days already served behind bars.

Maricopa County prosecutors said Ramirez's restitution amount will be determined later but will be capped at $5 million.

Ramirez and two other women were arrested last July after an eight-week investigation by Phoenix police, who said they seized more than $25 million worth of fake coupons and $2 million in other assets from the women's Phoenix-area homes.

Police said Ramirez was the leader of the operation that bought the counterfeit manufacturer coupons overseas and then sold them on a website.

People who purchased the coupons could use them for items from major national manufacturers and could get cash back if the value of the coupon exceeded the item's price, according to authorities.

Police said high-quality copies of manufacturer's coupons began surfacing in the United States from an unknown source about four years ago.

The victimized companies hired private investigators to find where the coupons were being sold, and that led them to Arizona.

Ramirez pleaded guilty in March to illegal control of an enterprise, counterfeiting and fraud schemes.

Two other people arrested on suspicion of participating in the scheme — Amiko Fountain, 43, and Marilyn Johnson, 54 — each pleaded guilty to one count of counterfeiting in November.

Fountain and Johnson helped operate the website site and ship the coupons, according to prosecutors who said the women each face up to 18 months in jail when they're sentenced May 8.