Posted 7/25/12 (Wed)
By Lauren Billing
Farmer Staff Writer
The United States has long fought with the crime of counterfeiting. At the time of the Civil War, it is estimated that one-third of all currency being circulated was counterfeit.
The difficulty, however, was that banks designed and printed their own notes. That made it extremely difficult to differentiate the 4,000 kinds of counterfeits from about 7,000 varieties of legitimate notes.
In 1863, the United States adopted an official currency, but counterfeiting continued to prosper. So on July 5, 1865, the U.S. government established the United States Secret Service to suppress counterfeiting where possible and investigate every potential counterfeiting case.
Last week, Watford City’s Chief of Police Slade Herfindahl interacted with the U.S. Secret Service after recovering over $10,000 in counterfeit bills, the second largest case that many regional Secret Service agents have ever investigated.
Herfindahl and the Watford City Police Department (WCPD) were first made aware of the threat through complaints of counterfeit bills made by local businesses and banks, who had collectively received about $1,000 in fake money.
Through continued vigilance, one business was able to identify 18-year-old Kasi Switzer as having passed counterfeit bills.
Within one week of receiving complaints, the WCPD located Switzer and her boyfriend, Shawn Patton, age 31, both of Las Vegas, Nev.
The couple was residing at 121 2nd Street Southwest, the residence of Travis Linseth. They were interviewed by police on the evening of July 14 and eventually taken into custody.
A consented search of the residence produced a laser printer, stacks of different paper qualities, rubber cement, aerosols and other articles commonly used in the manufacture of counterfeit bills.
The WCPD also confiscated quantities of $20, $50 and $100 bills amounting to about $10,000.
“The quality of these counterfeit bills was very good,” says Herfindahl. “They were printed in several layers, rubber-cemented together, sprayed with aerosols and sanded down to feel more worn.”
The counterfeit bills even passed the counterfeit pen, which marks yellow on real bills and black on illegitimate. It is important for businesses to remember, however, that counterfeit pens work less than 50 percent of the time, according to Herfindahl.
Patton and Switzer have been charged with five separate offenses of counterfeiting, each classified as a Class C Felony. Patton in also charged with the Class A Misdemeanor of carrying a concealed weapon.
On the evening of July 15, Linseth, age 27, of Watford City was interviewed by the WCPD. Linseth was also taken into custody for counterfeiting and possession of methamphetamine and marijuana-related drug paraphernalia. He faces Class C Felonies for counterfeiting and methamphetamine paraphernalia and Class A Misdemeanors for ingesting a controlled substance and marijuana paraphernalia.
A Class C Felony has a maximum penalty of five years imprisonment, a fine of $5,000 or both. Class A Misdemeanors carry the maximum penalty of one year imprisonment, a fine of $2,000 or both.
Patton and Swizter remain in custody at the Williams County Jail in Williston, while Linseth posted bail and has been released from custody.
“I’m very glad that the counterfeit bills were identified and that we could identify the individuals responsible,” says Herfindahl. “Our focus was getting them into custody and preventing any more citizens from being victimized.”
The WCPD urges local businesses and banks to remain on the lookout for counterfeit bills. They suggest comparing a potential counterfeit to genuine bills, paying close attention to red and blue fibers, security threads, color shifting ink, micro printing and watermark portraits.
More instructions for detecting a counterfeit bill can be found on the U.S. Secret Service’s website at www.secretservice.gov/money_detect.shtml.