Amarillo Arsonist Heats Up the Gold Market with Counterfeit Krugerrands


Check out the Full Biography of the Amarillo Arsonist HERE

What happens when a local crime boss grows bored with arson, promiscuity, and gambling? A headline in the Wall Street Journal caught the ambitious gangster’s eye. An entire shipment of African gold coins had been stolen in Canada. Sidney Heard didn’t have the stolen ones, but he could counterfeit them. This scheme would eventually wind up in the U.S. Supreme Court, change the U.S. counterfeit laws, and spell the downfall of gangster, Sidney J. Heard.



Sidney Heard was a misplaced Chicago gangster who found himself boss of his own crime family in the Amarillo area. By the early 1980s, Big Sid had his own organization that dealt with everything from hot cars, hot women, and drugs. He had also sucessfully torched twenty-two buildings in his insurance fraud scheme, but the Amarillo Arsonist was growing bored.

Big Sid was a schemer from childhood, and boredom was his primary enemy, whether he was in solitary confinement or out in the free world. By the fall of 1981, the Chicago-native was its clutches once more. He had grown tired of his routine illegal dealings and was eager to find the rush of adrenaline a new con brings. That’s when he stumbled across the newspaper article about stolen Krugerrands.

The African Krugerrand was unfamiliar to Sidney, but after a little research, he discovered the gold coin accounted for 90% of the gold market worldwide. Sidney was instantly struck with gold fever and set out to find a way to counterfeit the coin. He purchased a coin the next day for $700 from a reputable dealer and began to study it under a microscope.

Within a short time, Sidney and his crew had started counterfeiting the coin and using them all over Texas in various nefarious deals. Sidney even used them in Mexico to buy a couple of kilos of cocaine. Every transaction was kept under a specific price point to avoid detection. This kept the crew under law enforcement’s radar, but once this rule was broken, they’d have the FBI coming down on them hard.

Sidney Heard and his crew took out a loan from the president of Tascosa National Bank for ninety grand using 300 of the African gold coins as collateral. The process went without a hitch, so it was repeated three times. The plan was to have the bank robbed if things started getting hot.

In early October of 1980, Sidney waltzed into the Tascosa National Bank clad in a three-piece suit, looking every bit the part of a wealthy businessman. His cool blue eyes watched the bank president count the forged coins, fill out the financial paperwork, and then hand them a check for ninety grand. Although he had been duped by the fake coins, Robert Ringo’s biggest mistake was in agreeing to avoid submitting the necessary paperwork to report the currency transaction.

Federal law states all transactions involving currency totaling more than $10,000 must be reported. Of course, Sidney didn’t want the transaction reported, so he coaxed Ringo into foregoing the process. Ringo would later resign as bank president because of this scandal

This last transaction was being monitored by law enforcement, and Sidney was taken down on the sidewalk as he exited the bank. How did they catch him after 15-months of investigation? Check out Synova’s Unorganized Crime book for the full biography of Sidney Heard today.

“One of the few books written that gives the reader an insight into the criminal mind” – Retired FBI Agent Egelston

Raised in a mob-controlled suburb of Chicago, Sidney Heard grew up wanting to be a gangster. He was on probation by the age of thirteen and continued building his criminal resume over the next half a century. He was a professional arsonist for nearly twenty years; escaped from jail twice; ran a gold scandal grossing over a quarter of a million dollars, and that’s just to name a few of his illegal escapades. To top it off, he played a role in one of the most important Supreme Court Decisions of all time(Gideon vs. Wainwright).Sidney’s underworld connections ran from the Chicago-based Italians to the Mexican Mafia. He even worked undercover for the Federal Government at one point in his life. However, all of Sidney’s so-called glory would come with a price. While working undercover for the F.B.I. D.E.A., Sidney became hooked on drugs. He soon found himself staring at 125 years of jail time , a massive criminal record, and pushing his fiftieth birthday. Can a career criminal change?

Frank Abagnale’s criminal career lasted ten years and was featured in the movie Catch Me If You Can. Sidney Heard’s criminal career spanned five decades!

Further Reading:

UPI Article


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It’s a tale of two judges; one a well-liked defender of the law, and the other a cold-blooded manipulator. Judge C.E. Chillingworth was by all accounts a man of honor, so why were he and his wife taken from their home on June 15, 1955, in the wee hours of the morning, bound, gagged, weighted down, and thrown into the ocean?

When the Chillingworths disappear it would take nearly five years and one drunken hitman to finally uncover the truth behind West Palm Beach’s “crime of the century.”
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Synova Cantrell may be known for her fedora, but she wears many hats. Synova volunteers with the Missouri Missing organization by highlighting obscure cold cases on her true crime blog to help generate tips. She firmly believes together we can give grieving families answers, hope, and support. Synova works as the Production Editor of True Crime: Case Files Magazine. http://www.truecrimecasefiles.com As SWMO’s #1 True Crime Writer, Synova authored Unorganized Crime; a biography of the ex-gangster Sidney Heard of Chicago, IL. This thrilling tale of con games, bank robbery, and mayhem has recently been endorsed by a retired FBI agent. Her best-selling series, Seriously Stupid Criminals, is a fan favorite in both paperback and e-book formats. Her latest e-book, Grim Justice tells the story of a judge and his wife retired in Palm Beach, Florida in 1955. Her first case files book, Snatched was released on New Year's Day. Fans eagerly await her newest serial killer series set to launch late 2019. Synova has a passion for helping fellow authors and knows how overwhelming it can be to get started in this business, that is why she created Synova's Simply Biz. Synova breaks down the business of writing in a simple way. If you need help with your business check out her new page www.synovaink.com/simplybiz. To follow all her adventures and read her true crime blog, log onto www.synovaink.com Connect with Synova: Twitter: https://twitter.com/synovaink Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/synovacantrell Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/synovaink

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