Bronx brothers suspected of Upper Valley counterfeiting spree
Pair kept the receipts from businesses they allegedly ripped off
WHITE RIVER JUNCTION - Even more charges are expected in the next few days against two brothers from the Bronx who allegedly passed fake hundred dollar bills off to merchants across the Upper Valley before they were pulled over and arrested in Woodstock on Wednesday afternoon.
Jeffrey Medina, 24, and his brother Steven, 23, were each ordered held for lack of $25,000 bail on Thursday following their arraignments at the courthouse in downtown White River Junction where they both pleaded innocent to several felony counts of counterfeiting.
Windsor County Deputy State's Attorney Ward Goodenough told Judge Theresa DiMauro that the town of Hartford will definitely be filing at least two more counts against the men in the next few days as the investigations wrap up and police in the towns of Springfield and Bellows Falls are looking into possible crimes by the brothers in their towns.
New Hampshire authorities are also investigating the brothers as suspects in a number of similar counterfeit bill passing incidents that occurred in West Lebanon and Hanover this week and Goodenough added that agencies in New York state are checking to see if similar incidents occurred in their state while the Medinas were making their way from the Bronx up to New England.
“The strength of the state’s case is pretty strong,” Judge DiMauro noted during Thursday’s hearing as she imposed cash bail on the brothers.
That was in part because police in Woodstock found several receipts inside the vehicle when the pair were pulled over near the Woodstock Sunoco station Wednesday afternoon after merchants on the east end of the Village reported a spate of suspicious incidents involving two Hispanic males trying to buy small items with hundred dollar bills.
Woodstock Police Sgt. Joe Swanson said that when the car was searched police found $3,329 in “real money” along with receipts from Woodstock Home & Hardware, Dollar General in Springfield, and supermarkets and stores in West Lebanon, New Hampshire showing that each time the amount tendered had been 100 dollars even for items that only cost a few dollars, like cartons of milk or a roll of electrical tape.
Woodstock Police believe that the brothers tried to pass fake bills at four businesses in Woodstock, only succeeding at two of them before an officer spotted them pulling out of the parking lot of Mac’s Market.
Hartford’s investigation is on-going, but the pair have initially been charged with allegedly passing bills at the Cabot Quechee store and at the nearby Quechee Pizza Chef where they immediately aroused suspicion after they paid for a small order, got their change, and then didn’t even stick around to receive their food.
Steven Medina, 23, of the Bronx, New York is facing multiple felony counterfeiting charges
The counterfeit bills that police retrieved as evidence on Wednesday were based on the previous generation of hundreds, known as Series 2006, which still had the circular style portrait on the front and which also lack the bright blue security stripes of the current Series 2009 bills. Still, Sgt. Swanson wrote, while authentic versions of the older style bills are perfectly valid as currency several merchants who rejected the bills Wednesday said the copies the brothers allegedly tried to pass had a “waxy” or “flat” feel that gave them pause. Others said they specifically noticed the lack of watermarks and security threads which caused them to balk at taking them.
One of the suspect bills seized as evidence by the Hartford Police Department
Sgt. Swanson said that after the men were arrested Wednesday he contacted the Gang Unit at the Queens Field Office of the United States Secret Service, which is in charge of counterfeiting investigations worldwide for the Treasury. Swanson said an agent told him that it is “common practice” for gangs in the New York area to produce high-quality counterfeit notes and have someone drive around New England purchasing inexpensive items in order to collect the balance in change, “visiting as many stores as necessary to break the bills before returning home.”
In Vermont each counterfeiting charge (and Jeffrey Medina is now facing five of them while Steven Medina is currently facing three) carries a maximum potential penalty of up to 14 years in prison.
Jeffrey Medina, 24, of the Bronx is facing multiple felony counterfeiting charges
Vermont News can be contacted at email@example.com