Three Albany men were in jail Friday, April 20, for passing more than $40,000 in counterfeit money over the past several months in Bethlehem and the Capital District.
Kofi Opuku Agyemang, Joel P. Evans and Jules T. Hawkins are being charged with forgery, grand larceny, petty larceny, and weapons possession including rifles and several stun guns.
Bethlehem police have been working with various state and federal law enforcement agencies including the U.S. Secret Service ever since the fake money began circulating in Glenmont and other stores around town.
This is far reaching and travels all across the country, said Bethlehem police Chief Lou Corsi at Friday's press conference, flanked by a group of law enforcement officials from the city of Albany, the county District Attorney's office and the Secret Service.
"This is a very large arrest," said William Leegi of the U.S. Secret Service.
According to the investigation, Agyemang, Evans and Hawkins allegedly went from store to store in Glenmont with counterfeit $100 bills, making change through small purchases and pocketing the legitimate currency, usually amounting to $85 and $90.
"It was a very methodical, very organized operation of laundering money, buying items and pocketing the rest," Corsi said.
More than 195 counterfeit $100 bills were recovered in Bethlehem alone. Phony money was passed to at least 13 Bethlehem businesses, including the Glenmont Wal-Mart, Five Guys Burgers and Fries and other shops, including several stores in the various Glenmont shopping plazas. Lt. Thomas Heffernan said an employee at Five Guys called the police department on Tuesday, April 17 after one of the three individuals tried to pass a phony $100 bill after a small purchase.
"The transaction raised the employee's suspicion and he contacted our department, who then immediately contacted the Secret Service," said Heffernan.
The source of the counterfeit money is out of state and still at large, according to police.