By Joe Pinchot
Herald Staff Writer
HEMPFIELD TOWNSHIP —
A Hempfield Township man has been charged by three police departments with making and/or passing counterfeit bills in Mercer County.
At least two more departments also are investigating Nicholas E. Davis, and the Secret Service has joined the probe, said Hempfield Township patrolman Dan McCloskey.
More people could be charged in connection with the inquiry, he said.
In response to the reports, local police departments are setting up a class for employers to give them tips on spotting counterfeit bills, McCloskey said. No date has been set.
Hermitage police said they received reports Feb. 26 of small purchases being made with $100 bills at Tic Toc Food Mart, 4195 E. State St.; Sheetz, 1650 N. Hermitage Road; Speedway, 579 S. Hermitage Road; Walmart, 1275 N. Hermitage Road; and Taco Bell, 1990 E. State St.
In each case, a large amount of change was returned, police said.
Similar bogus bill transactions were reported in Sharon, Greenville and Hempfield Township, police said.
Security camera footage was obtained and shared with other police departments, and Davis, 18, of 66 Sherrard Ave., and a 17-year-old were identified, police said.
Davis’ Jeep also was identified, police said.
Police obtained a search warrant for Davis’ home and Hermitage, Greenville-West Salem Township and Hempfield police executed it Feb. 28, finding bills in various stages of production and materials used in making phony money, police said.
“This is one of the more sophisticated (counterfeiting) labs that I have seen,” McCloskey said.
Davis and the juvenile each admitted making and passing funny money, Hermitage police said.
It is not known if the juvenile has been charged.
Hermitage police charged Davis with forgery, corruption of a minor, theft and conspiracy to commit forgery and theft, and Hempfield police charged him with forgery and possessing instruments of crime. District Judge Ronald E. Antos, Farrell, arraigned Davis and released him after Davis posted bail.
Hempfield’s charges stem only from what was found during the search, McCloskey said, adding that police are still investigating reports from local businesses that they had been given counterfeit currency.
Davis faces preliminary hearings at 2:30 p.m. March 12 before District Judge Brian Arthur, Greenville, and 9 a.m. March 13 before Antos.
Arthur arraigned Davis Wednesday on Pymatuning Township police charges of theft and forgery, and set a preliminary hearing for 2:45 p.m. April 16.
Attempts to reach Pymatuning police for details of their cases have not been successful.