Counterfeit bills used in four Armstrong communities
Police are building a case against three unnamed suspects believed to have passed counterfeit $20 bills at businesses in Elderton, Manor, East Franklin and the borough of Kittanning during the last week.
The suspects were identified by state police through surveillance videos in stores where the bills were used, and arrests are expected within a week, said Trooper Timothy Amy of the Kittanning barracks.
In addition to federal counterfeiting charges, the suspects could be charged with theft by deception, criminal conspiracy, fraud and forgery.
A half-dozen counterfeit bills were used Saturday in Wal-Mart and KFC-Taco Bell in the Hilltop Plaza in East Franklin, Amy said. Two bills were used Sunday in the Elderton Country Market on Route 85. Another case was reported in the Dollar General in Manor on Tuesday.
“One person buys something, while the other person creates some sort of distraction so the cashiers aren't paying as much attention to the bills,” Amy said. “Managers call us at the end of their shifts when they're counting down their drawers.”
The fake currency is printed on paper thicker than the linen used for real $20 bills and has uneven cutting along the edges, Amy said. All of the bills — which have been sent to a forensics lab to determine how they were made — have the same serial number: JL45648992F.
“They're a good-looking bill, but you can feel the edges are different on them,” Amy said. “We don't know if any more of them are in circulation, so anybody who receives a $20 bill should make sure to check it thoroughly, and if there is something unusual, call the police right away.”
Police urge retailers to carefully check each bill they receive with counterfeit-detecting markers.
According to Counterfeit Forensics, a website dedicated to helping people spot fake bills, the detection pens are iodine-based markers which react to starch that is found in most paper, but not currency. They leave a light amber mark on genuine money, but the ink turns dark brown on fake cash.
“These markers are their first line of defense against taking in fake bills,” said Kittanning police Chief Bruce Mathews.
Mathews said his department is working with state police on two investigations of counterfeit bills that were used in businesses in the borough. Mathews declined to discuss specifics of the cases but said it's believed the same suspects are involved in the borough crimes.
Despite the recent spree, Amy said counterfeiting cases are uncommon in Armstrong County.
“I've been with the state police for the last 10 years, and this is the only the second time we've dealt with any counterfeiting,” Amy said.
Police plan to meet with District Attorney Scott Andreassi by Friday to determine if they will file charges against the three suspects or turn the investigation over to the Secret Service's field office in Pittsburgh for federal prosecution.
Brad Pedersen is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 724-543-1303, ext. 1337, or email@example.com.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Annual Rural Valley festival kicks off Thursday
- Family to rebuild Manor home destroyed by fire
- Kittanning firefighters set to muster up a good time in 125th year
- Manor woman trains blood-tracking dogs with hopes of working at home
- Duck Derby helps keep Armstrong theater group afloat
- Armstrong Concert Band performing Saturday in Ford Cliff
- Kittanning event raising money for Drugs Kill Dreams
- Ford City Council’s police committee recommends eliminating department
- West Kittanning increases security around its dumpster
- Rural Valley day care opening in former American Legion building
- Armstrong sheriff replaces patrol cars with newer models