MANKATO — Several thousand dollars in counterfeit cash was recovered after a Blue Earth County sheriff's deputy stopped a vehicle for speeding in Mankato Wednesday afternoon.
The driver of the vehicle was stopped at about 1:20 p.m. as he was traveling south on Highway 22 near the Victory Drive intersection. The deputy called for assistance after he became suspicious about the way the driver and passengers were acting.
When the vehicle was searched, law enforcement officers found several thousand dollars in counterfeit $50 bills, said Capt. Rich Murry of the Blue Earth County Sheriff's Department. Stolen property and a small amount of marijuana also were found.
A short time before the stop a clerk at the Quick Mart in St. Peter called police to report receiving a counterfeit $50 bill from someone who stopped there for gas. The driver or one of his two passengers went into the store to prepay for the gas while one of the other men was pumping the gas.
The clerk realized the bill was counterfeit before the three men left, so he was able to get a license plate number and a description of the vehicle, said store owner Rick Olsen. He later learned the same people were suspected of traveling through northern Minnesota, St. Cloud and the Twin Cities area passing counterfeit money.
Murry said the deputy was not aware of the Quick Mart clerk's counterfeit report when he stopped the vehicle for speeding. That report was passed on a short time after the stop, however.
The three men arrested were from Illinois, Murry said. They are Delonno Armel Myles, 33; Charles Price, 31; and Dennis Deandre Crisler, 21.
It's not uncommon for convenience stores to find counterfeit bills, Olsen said. What is uncommon in this case is the people suspected of being the first to use the bills were caught.
"It happens now and then," Olsen said. "They usually use 20, 50 and 100 dollar bills. A lot of times you get it from someone who got it somewhere else. We're always out the money.
"This time we're out the money and caught the perpetrators too. So it's a fair trade I think."
Price and Myles were arrested in Iowa in November for passing counterfeit bills there, the Cedar Rapids Gazette reported. They were caught after they used fake cash to buy parts at one auto parts store then return the parts at another store from the same franchise in the city.