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Caught red-handed with green ink

FARMINGTON — It’s hard to make enough money these days … that is, unless you have a computer, some decent paper and a lot of green ink. Even then you run the risk of hitting a wall financially if the law gets wind of what you’ve been doing.

That seems to be the case for four St. Francois County residents now facing a list of charges stemming from what police say was a low-tech counterfeit operation in a home just east of the Farmington city limits. The quartet, three age 21 and the fourth in his forties, could also face federal charges in coming days.

Members of the Secret Service were in town Wednesday afternoon reviewing reports and evidence seized as result of a search warrant served late Tuesday. Farmington police, along with members of the Missouri State Highway Patrol, confiscated a computer and printer, other counterfeiting supplies and several hundred dollars of fake $20 and $10 bills.

Officers had been warning merchants to be on the watch for fake currency since the first rash of counterfeit bills started showing up about a week earlier. Then earlier this week a worker at a local business took a $20 from a customer and immediately suspected it was fake.

Police Chief Rick Baker said the worker’s keen senses and information investigators had compiled as bills were discovered in the area over the past week led to obtaining the search warrant Tuesday for the home east of Farmington.

Aside from the printer, paper and stock of copied currency, officers also discovered a small amount of drug paraphernalia at the home. Three people were arrested, with a fourth taken into custody Wednesday.

Reports are being submitted to the St. Francois County Prosecuting Attorney’s office seeking charges of forgery, stealing, and possession of drug paraphernalia. Baker said it’s possible federal counterfeiting-related charges could also be added.

It’s known that the countefeit bills were passed as far away as Fredericktown to the south and Festus to the north. Businesses should still be on the watch for bills that might still be in circulation. Anyone receiving a fake $10 of $20 should contact the local law enforcement agency and turn over the fake money. The Farmington Police can be reached at (573) 756-6686.

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