An improperly displayed tag led to the discovery of counterfeit money and 25 sheets of paper with printed $20 bills during a Rock Hill traffic stop, according to law enforcement records.
Scott Joseph Caldwell, 23, was charged with two counts of forgery and driving under suspension, according to jail records. A judge set his bond at $30,000 Tuesday afternoon.
Officers pulled over a Mercedes Benz on the 1100 block of Mt. Gallant Road about 12:30 a.m. Tuesday after noticing the car didn’t have a tag displayed on its rear, according to a police report. The driver, Caldwell, told officers the North Carolina dealership where he purchased the car had placed the tag in a rear window.
While reviewing Caldwell’s paperwork, an officer noticed a Mike’s Hard Cranberry Lemonade on the back floorboard and asked Caldwell to step out, police said. He told officers there was nothing illegal in the car.
Officers found several open bottles of beer on the back floorboard and a “large sum” of $20 bills that all had the same serial number on them, police said. Some of the bills were not cut straight, and police also found a .9 mm handgun in the console with the money.
The counterfeit currency included $100 bills, $20 bills and $5 bills, police said. A box in the car contained a paper cutter and 25 pieces of paper of a $20 bill, all of which had the same serial numbers as the bills in the console.
Caldwell said all of the items in the car were his and that his female passenger knew nothing of the items, the report states. He added that he is a convicted felon and prohibited by law from possessing a firearm.
Detective Keith Dugan, a financial crimes investigator for the Rock Hill Police Department, said police found about $1,800 in real currency and $2,000 in counterfeit currency in the car. Investigators believe Caldwell had at least one other person working with him.
“There’s definitely someone else involved if not two or three,” Dugan said. “At this time, that part’s pending. He has not given us any information on who else he’s doing this with.”
It’s rare for police to find currency and items to manufacture it together, Dugan said. He added that Caldwell’s operation was “very simplistic,” and the quality of the notes was poor.
Rock Hill Police are working with the U.S. Secret Service to investigate the case “because of the propensity for more forgeries to occur,” Dugan said.
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