Jacksonville, FL - A local Secret Service agent indicted for stealing counterfeit money wants to represent himself in court.
47-year-old Anthony Preissig, of St. Johns County, was arrested this morning at his home on Worthington Parkway. The indictment obtained by WOKV alleges between October and November 2011, Preissing stole more than $1000 in counterfeit money from the Jacksonville Field office of the US Secret Service. Investigators say he then tried to use a counterfeit $100 bill at a St. Johns County gas station, and when he was confronted by law enforcement about the transaction, the indictment says he lied about knowing the bill was counterfeit and knowing where it came from.
He retired from the Secret Service in 2012.
Preissig made his first appearance in federal court today where he was formally read the charges facing him.
He told US Magistrate Joel Toomey that he was receiving “psychodynamic therapy” for bipolar disorder, manic depression and OCD. He is also on various prescriptions for physical ailments, and Assistant US Attorney Vincent Citro said Preissig tested positive for opiates during his pre-trial detention today.
Despite this, Preissig told Toomey he understood what was happening in the proceedings and the charges facing him, and he in fact wants to represent himself in court.
“It’s a very big and very unusual decision,” Toomey said during the hearing.
However, when he later asked Preissig how long he would need to consider whether he wanted to hire an attorney, Preissig replied he didn’t need any time because he was going to represent himself.
The Magistrate then looked to set a date for a hearing where he could determine whether Preissig was capable of representing himself, and Citro brought up his intent to file a motion to evaluate Preissig’s mental competency. Preissig objected to the evaluation, so the motion will be considered during his arraignment next week.
The US Attorney’s Office did not seek to detain Preissig, instead offering bond conditions which included that he surrender his passport, be subject to supervision by pre-trial services, continue to undergo mental treatment and additionally submit to regular drug testing.
When Toomey told Preissig he would also have to turn over any firearms or dangerous weapons, the defendant objected. He argued that in his experience working in government, he had never heard of weapons being surrendered pre-trial, and that he was no threat to anyone’s safety. Citro insisted, however, saying he would request Preissig be detained if the weapons were not submitted. Toomey also insisted because he says it is protocol for the safety of the pre-trial supervision team. Preissig eventually relented, agreeing to turn his guns over to a Secret Service “colleague”.
Preissig also objected in court to the “outrageous use of force” he saw by the arresting officers. He told Toomey he was willing to turn himself in, but was instead confronted in his home. The US Attorney offered no response to this. The arrest was performed by the Department of Homeland Security with the assistance of the St. Johns County Sheriff’s Office.
Preissig will next appear in court on Wednesday, January 22 for his arraignment and a hearing on whether he should be subject to competency evaluation. If convicted on all charges, Preissig faces up to 35 years in federal prison, 9 years of supervised release and a $750,000 fine.