LOCUST GROVE — Counterfeit money floating around Locust Grove has led to the arrest of three females, two 17, and one 18.
Locust Grove police said there were three recent incidents in which the water marks on the fake money did not match. One incident was at a grocery store, another at a fast food restaurant and at an outlet mall.
There were different suspects involved in each of the fake money crimes.
The United States Secret Service has joined in the investigation the counterfeit money cases, according to Locust Grove Police Chief Jesse Patton.
Initially, police were called to the Ingles grocery store at 4920 Bill Gardner Parkway on July 2. The store manager told police a black man and woman passed counterfeit $50 bills.
“They both purchased four $100 gift cards,” said Officer J. Hunnicutt, in the police report. “The black male purchased an additional $50 gift card. ... Both the black female and black male paid with counterfeit $50 bills. Out of 19 of the bills, only two had the same matching serial numbers.” Both of the suspects were able to leave the store before the store manager was alerted to the bogus exchange.
Police, along with U.S. Secret Service agents, are searching for them.
Locust Grove police arrested three suspects on June 27, when an attempt to pass fake money failed at the Tanger Outlet Centers, in Locust Grove. Two women tried to purchase items at the Rue 21 store using counterfeit $100 bills. Officer D. Gulley said when one suspect, Kiera Hightower, of Atlanta, gave a store clerk the fake bill to pay for store items, the water mark did not match the denomination printed on the bill. A different Rue 21 store clerk was assisting Kaila Guidry, of Smyrna, with her purchase.
“[The store clerk] stated they kept the bills and called police as both females were leaving the store,” according to the police report.
Police said the women were observed headed in the direction of the Polo store in Tanger Outlet Centers and once there, Guidry allegedly tried to purchase a V-neck shirt with a bogus $100.
Once a clerk told suspect Guidry the money was counterfeit. “[The employee] gave the bill back to Mrs. Guidry and she left the store,” according to the police report.
The officer then checked the Rack Room shoe store and located Guidry. He asked permission to search her purse for the counterfeit bills.
“Sure, go ahead,” replied Guidry, as she handed the officer her purse. The officer said he did not find the fake money inside the purse. However, when she permitted him to check inside a small change purse in her hand, the officer said he found three $100 bills.
“I checked the bills and found that the water mark did not match the denominations printed on the bills, just like the ones I recovered from Rue 21,” Gulley said.
Police arrested Hightower and Kayla Regina Nicole Allen, of Hiram, at Tanger Outlet Centers. Hightower, 17, and Guidry, 17, were taken to the Locust Grove Police Department.
Gulley said he checked the back seat of the patrol car once the women were out, and discovered two additional counterfeit $100 bills stuffed under the seat.
“Hightower was not handcuffed while in the back of the car,” added Gulley in the report. “Guidry was cuffed behind her back while transported.”
Both women were interviewed by a U.S. Secret Service agent at the police department, and later taken to the Henry County Jail.
Allen, 18, remained in the Henry County Jail with a $3,500 bond at press time Tuesday.
Another counterfeit money incident took place June 23, at the Zaxby’s located at 4845 Bill Gardner Parkway. A customer tried to pass a $100 bill printed on top of a $5 bill, said officer J. Hunnicutt in a police report.
Hunnicutt said a Zaxby’s worker told him a 25-year-old white male customer gave her the fake bill. The customer told police he works for Consumer Security Alarm Co., in Locust Grove, and had to work in Austell the day before. He said he received the counterfeit bill after giving a man change for the fake money while there.