- Associated Press - Wednesday, September 24, 2014

JUNEAU, Alaska (AP) - A Juneau man faces a forgery charge after police say he used fake bills to buy soda at a hotel and pay a phone bill.

Michael James Healey, 32, was indicted by grand jury on Friday. An arraignment was planned Wednesday afternoon in Juneau Superior Court for the felony charge. His attorney, Mark Osterman, declined comment when reached by The Associated Press Wednesday morning.

At least five Juneau businesses reported receiving forged bills in the last month, the Juneau Empire reported (https://is.gd/dHSEHh ).

“We believe that they’re connected based on the serial numbers on the bills,” police Lt. Kris Sell said. “If you use the same original and keep copying it, they’re going to be linked. And these all have the same serial numbers.”

Police said they were led to Healey after the manager of the Breakwater Inn reported a man staying at the motel used a fake $10 bill to buy soda.

Police said in an affidavit that they found $189 in fake bills in his pocket.

Sell said it was not a high-tech counterfeiting operation, and police found a scanner, computer, printer, paper cutter, cut and uncut copies of counterfeit bills.

“It’s not the first time we’ve seen that done,” Sell said. “It seems like people every now and then decide ‘I think I’ll try and make my own money.’”

According to police, Healey said he and two others had been printing the money for about seven months.

“We know that more money is coming in associated with this case,” Sell said.

This might include a cellphone provider, who reported receiving fake bills as payment. “It’s the same serial number as the other originals that we collected on the search warrant, so it doesn’t take a huge leap in police work to say they’re associated,” she said.

Juneau police contacted the U.S. Secret Service, but Sell said the federal agency isn’t usually interested unless these schemes involve a large amount of cash.

“So far we have not had a case that’s interested the feds in actually doing something,” Sell said. “They always want to see the bills and want to know what’s going on, but we have yet to have a case where they’ve said, ‘We’ll be right there’ and fly in.”

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Information from: Juneau (Alaska) Empire, https://www.juneauempire.com

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