June 28, 2006
Catch Suspected Low Tech Counterfeiter
In a world where serious crimes are rare, passing counterfeit money is among the most seldom seen offenses. Even more rare? The solving of a counterfeit case.
Usually, when police receive a complaint about funny money, the report is taken and the bogus bill is dutifully shipped off to the US Treasury Department, never to be heard of again. Few and very far between, the cases fall into a black hole.
Not this one. Last week Southampton Town Police reported an arrest in a complaint dating back almost a year. Anthony Pace, 25, of Flanders Road in the hamlet of the same name, was charged last Wednesday with first-degree forgery and criminal possession of a forged instrument, both felonies.
"We never give up," Det. Sgt. Randy Hintze allowed dryly on Thursday. Last July police received reports of counterfeit $20 bills surfacing at gas stations in the Riverhead and Riverside area. Cops believe Pace printed up four or five of the bills and used them to make various purchases.
Hintze described the faux 20s as "so obviously phony." The paper quality was poor, as was the printing. In fact, Hintze was surprised the bills were successfully passed at all. "Anyone who does retail would know it right away," he said, disparaging the suspect's home counterfeiting operation as "very low tech."
Still, someone wasn't paying attention and the suspect was allegedly able to pawn a handful of the bogus bills off on lackadaisical clerks.
According to Hintze, eventually a gas station attendant noted the fake 20 and confronted Pace. Cops say the first time the suspect was confronted he got scared and stopped using the money.
The Secret Service is the agency with expertise investigating counterfeit. When the first complaints came in, the STPD contacted the feds, looking to see if they'd gotten any complaints tracing back to the suspect paper. There was nothing on it, Hintze related. Checking periodically police did learn of activity on the bill. The Service couldn't tell exactly where the bill was passed, but police eventually were able to get a description, which led to the arrest.
Hintze implied that Pace admitted to printing up the money. "This was a 25- year-old kid who thought he could make some quick money," he said. Pace could face a maximum of five to 15 years in prison if convicted of the two felonies.