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Hancock-area man charged with counterfeiting

May 14, 1997

By BRENDAN KIRBY

Staff Writer

HANCOCK - Federal agents raided a house west of Hancock Wednesday and charged a man with weapons possession and counterfeiting, authorities said.

Jerry Edwin Petry, 47, was charged with manufacturing counterfeit U.S. currency, possession of explosives and possession of firearms, according to a statement issued by the U.S. Secret Service.

He is accused of using an elaborate computer system to make about $50,000 worth of $100 bills, authorities said.

Petry was held in the Washington County Detention Center Wednesday afternoon while agents from the Secret Service and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms searched his home, First Assistant U.S. Attorney Stephen Schenning said.

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Petry was expected to be arraigned on state charges today in Hagerstown before being arraigned on federal charges before a U.S. magistrate in Baltimore today or Friday, Schenning said.

Officials do not believe any of the phony bills were circulated, Schenning said.

Schenning said the affidavit supporting the search warrant has been sealed to protect witnesses. He would not comment on how Petry became a suspect or on how long he had been under investigation.

Schenning said he does not know what kinds of explosives or firearms the agents had been searching for. He would not characterize how extensive authorities believed the counterfeiting operation was.

"Counterfeiting is a serious offense," he said. "The other charges are serious as well."

If convicted, Petry faces fines of up to $250,000 on each of the three charges, Schenning said. The counterfeiting charge carries a maximum sentence of 15 years in prison and each of the other two charges carries sentences of up to 10 years in prison.

Authorities would not give Petry's address.

A neighbor contacted Wednesday evening said she came home after noon to discover police cars close to her home at 3513 National Pike. Aura McCusker expressed shock that Petry was accused of crimes.

"He's always been very well-mannered, very polite, very nice," she said. "I can't say anything bad about the man."

McCusker said Petry moved into his house between five and 10 years ago. Although she did not know him well, she said he was a good neighbor and sometimes plowed snow on her street.

McCusker said Petry also plowed snow for businesses in Hancock.

"If I needed a favor, he would probably do it," she said. "This just blew my mind today."

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