Police question two Juneau men in counterfeit case

Authorities plan to press charges

Posted: Sunday, July 29, 2007

Juneau police said they are preparing to press charges against two local men accused of involvement in a local counterfeit ring.

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No arrests have been made, according to police Sgt. Dave Campbell, head of investigations. He said the two men are in their early 20s. The men are from Juneau and Douglas, police said Friday.

Police, working with the FBI, completed on Thursday night the first phase of an investigation into a counterfeit operation.

The amount of money passed to local merchants remains unknown, but police think it's less than $1,000.

Campbell said police first got wind of funny money going around Juneau in February.

"We started working with the FBI then, but the trail went cold." he said.

The fake bills showed up again June 14. Four merchants reported fake bills in $20, $50 and $100 denominations, Campbell said. Both Breeze-In groceries and both Bullwinkle's Pizzas reportedly had counterfeited bills passed this summer.

One of the suspects allegedly passed a nicely made copy as he ordered a sandwich from Bullwinkle's Pizza Manager Dave Smith in Mendenhall Valley.

"I knew it was a bad bill because the color was off," Smith said. "But it felt pretty good."

Stalling, Smith slowly prepared the order after calling the police - twice. Waiting, Smith eventually gave the man his order.

"I didn't want him to get suspicious," Smith said.

After 45 minutes, Smith asked one of his employees to change clothes then wait outside and get the license plate number.

"I could have just said get out," Smith said.

Campbell said police treated the counterfeiting seriously and proceeded accordingly.

That license plate number - and positive identification of one of the men by a Breeze-In cashier - gave police enough to gain four search warrants for a Douglas address, including one for a house, a car, a person and unidentified evidence.

During the July 12 raid, police seized a desktop copier, counterfeit money and the original bills used to make the fakes.

"Serial numbers matched," Campbell said.

Police found drug paraphernalia described as recreational during their search.

"It will not be part of this case," Campbell said.

Police expected to forward the evidence along with interviews from the two suspects to the Juneau District Attorney's Office.

Police said the amount of money counterfeited may not interest federal prosecutors. "I'm pretty sure it will be a state case," said Campbell.

The FBI did not return phone calls Saturday.

Alaska has no law specifically detailing counterfeiting. If indicted by a grand jury, the alleged counterfeiters face forgery charges that deal with counterfeiting currency.

Campbell said the pair could be charged with first-degree forgery and face a maximum of 10 years in state prison.

• Contact Greg Skinner at 523-2258 or greg.skinner@juneauempire.com.

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