COVINGTON - The Covington Police confiscated a significant number of counterfeit bills at about 4 p.m. Sunday at the Covington Wal-Mart, according to an incident report completed by Officer Joe Parkin.
Parkin's report stated that a call came in from Wal-Mart asking an officer to come to the customer service department in reference to someone passing counterfeit U.S. currency.
Two Hispanic men identified themselves to Parkin, stating that they were the ones who tried to pass the currency.
"At this time one of the employees approached me and handed me the fake U.S. $50 dollar bill," the report states. "Immediately after receiving the bill I knew from the feel of the bill that it was fraudulent."
Parkin said the man who had actually tried to pass the bill, later identified as Joel Martinez, 23, of 1022 Hillsdale St., Smyrna, said he was unaware that it was fake, and as soon as he discovered it was fake, he paid for the rest of his items with real U.S. currency.
Parkin asked Martinez where he received the bill and he stated he believed he got the fake bill from a gas station in Smyrna three days earlier.
"Martinez stated that he had bought $30 worth of gas and they had given him change in the denomination of one $20 dollar bill and one $50 dollar bill," the report states, going on to say that Martinez maintained had he known the money was fake, he would have never tried to spend it.
Parkin stated he asked Martinez for his ID and he reached into his back pocket and took out a tri-fold wallet, handed the officer his license and left the wallet open on his lap.
"(This) gave me a full view of what was in the area one keeps his cash. I noticed in his wallet what appeared to be a substantial amount of currency," Parkin stated.
While awaiting information from GCIC as to whether Martinez had any outstanding warrants, Parking continued talking to him and asked him to show him all of his U.S. cash.
"Martinez paused for a second or two and then began to reach into his right front pocket," Parkin stated. "Martinez was pulling out $1 bills, $10 bills and other small denominations of U.S. currency. I knew Martinez had more money and, therefore, asked him to show me his wallet and the cash I had seen in the wallet."
Parkin said Martinez hesitated, but handed over the wallet and Parkin discovered another $250 in fake $50 dollar bills. At that point, Parkin stated he put Martinez under arrest.
In patting him down, another wad of cash was located in his pants pocket, which Martinez said was his "tax return money" he got from a check cashing store in Gwinnett County.
"I noticed that the largest bill was a $20 bill. ... Upon a closer look at the money, I noticed that in his tax return money were fraudulent $20 dollar bills," Parkin stated.
When later questioned concerning the quantity of counterfeit bills, after being read his rights, Martinez told Parkin "he was going to tell me what had really happened," the report states.
Martinez said a friend he knew only by the name "Moo" gave him the money to repay a $400 loan, but he had no information on how to contact him or the mutual friend he said had introduced him to "Moo," according to the report.
Parkin's report states he found a total of $970 in counterfeit U.S. currency on Martinez, who "had trouble" accounting for where it all came from.
Martinez was charged with first and second degree forgery in connection with the counterfeit bills.
The U.S. Secret Service will continue the investigation.
Barbara Knowles can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org