“He was charming,” Mr. Thibault said. “And I perceived him to be a real person, although I didn’t know the totality of Louis.”
Mr. Colavecchio, who was born on Jan. 1, 1942, spent part of his early life in Warwick, R.I., his childhood friend, Mary Ann Sorrentino, wrote in an opinion article in The Providence Journal. He graduated from Providence College in 1964 with a degree in business administration, The Journal reported. In September 2015, he enrolled at the Community College of Rhode Island, court records show.
He grew up with a sister and a brother, who later became a Jesuit missionary, Ms. Sorrentino wrote.
Casino officials were often too embarrassed to admit they were swindled by Mr. Colavecchio, said Franz Douskey, his friend and co-author. He was barred from every casino in the country, The Associated Press reported. Nonetheless, he had disguises, labeled in boxes and bins with the names of different casinos, that he used to fake his own appearance and outwit pursuers.
Though available court records give an incomplete picture, they show that, over the decades, Mr. Colavecchio faced a series of charges that included bank, mortgage and insurance fraud.
But counterfeiting was his calling card.
In 1997, he was sentenced to 27 months in prison for his phony casino coins, and in 2019, he was sentenced to 15 months, this time for producing thousands of counterfeit $100 bills.
“They call it a correctional institute but they didn’t correct him,” Mr. Douskey said in an interview.
All of his work was meticulous, intelligent and done with a keen focus. He could toil alone under microscopes for days, spurred by a desire to trick the federal government and the casinos.
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