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Counterfeit money still circulating in Hagerstown area

July 06, 2012|By DAVE McMILLION | davem@herald-mail.com

Police earlier this year charged two Hagerstown men in a counterfeit case, but the problem of fake money being passed in the city persists, investigators say.

On May 5, counterfeit money was used at the CVS/pharmacy at 34 N. Cannon Ave., and on April 20, a counterfeit bill was used at the McDonald’s at 316 E. Washington St., according to Detective Sgt. Jim Hurd of the Hagerstown Police Department.

However, those incidents do not appear to be related to the cases in which the two Hagerstown men were charged, Hurd said.

In the May 5 incident, a counterfeit $100 bill was passed at the CVS/pharmacy by an older man, Hurd said. The man received change from the bill and left the store, but employees did not realize until later that the bill was counterfeit, he said.

A counterfeit $20 bill was passed at the McDonald’s, but store employees did not notice until they were putting money in a safe that the bill was suspicious, Hurd said.

Matthew Holden Clukey, 20, and Stefan Alin Sterling, 22, were charged after police searched a city home on March 1 at 738 Summit Ave., where the two lived, and found a trash can containing sheets of paper with printed images of currency, according to court records.

Clukey and Sterling were charged with manufacturing U.S. currency with intent to defraud, scanning an electronic image of U.S. currency with intent to defraud and possession of counterfeit U.S. currency, according to Washington County District Court records.

Sterling also faced an additional charge of possession of counterfeit U.S. currency, court records said.

A trial date of Aug. 29 in Washington County District Court has been scheduled for Clukey, Michael said.

Sterling later pleaded guilty to possession of counterfeit U.S. currency, while charges of manufacturing U.S. currency with the intent to defraud, scanning an electronic image of U.S. currency with intent to defraud and one other count of possession of counterfeit U.S. currency were dropped, Deputy State’s Attorney Joseph Michael said.

Sterling received a three-year sentence, but it was suspended, Michael said. 

He was also placed on probation for two years and fined $1,000, but he does not have to pay it unless he violates probation, Michael said.

Clukey is also charged with two counts of possession of counterfeit U.S. currency, theft less than $1,000 in value and theft less than $100 in connection with two other cases, according to court records.

District court trials are scheduled for July 12 and Aug. 2 in those cases, Michael said.

One case stemmed from an incident Jan. 15 in which a woman sold a Sony PSP and 11 games to an individual in the Big Lots parking lot at 1105 Maryland Ave., according to court records.

The woman said a man stepped from a silver sport utility vehicle and handed her $100 and three $20s.

The woman said she attempted to use the $160 at Big Lots and was told by store workers that the currency was “non-genuine,” the  records said.

The other case involved three $100 bills and a $20 bill that were counterfeit, according to court records.

A Cumberland, Md., man told police he sold items that he advertised on craigslist. The buyer asked the Cumberland man to meet him Jan. 21 at a house on Summit Avenue near City Park, according to court records.

The buyer gave the Cumberland man three $100 bills and a $20 bill that were determined to be counterfeit when the seller tried to deposit the money at a bank in Cumberland, court records said.



The word ‘counterfeit’

On Feb. 29, city police detectives Jason Dietz and Nick Varner went to the Hagerstown Fire Marshal’s Office to interview a man about a shooting, court records said.

While discussing the shooting, the man said he had been to Clukey and Sterling’s home often and had observed several large stacks of U.S. currency in the home, court records said.

On March 1, Hagerstown police Officer Randy Keefer saw Sterling in the 100 block of Summit Avenue and learned that he had an active warrant, court records said.

Keefer handcuffed Sterling and took him to central booking.

“Then he (Sterling) stated he had some good information on something big and wanted to work a deal,” Detective Jason Ackerman said in a statement of probable cause.

While Keefer was driving to central booking, Sterling said he left a “sign of good faith” behind a partition dividing the front and rear portion of the police cruiser, Ackerman said.

Sterling also said: “Counterfeit. Do you like that word?”

Keefer said he searched his cruiser and found six non-genuine $10 bills and 19 non-genuine $20 bills stuffed into the front passenger area of his cruiser.

Ackerman said he interviewed Sterling at the city police department March 1. Sterling said that he met Clukey about three months before the interview and learned that Clukey was homeless, court records said.

Sterling said he told Clukey that he could stay at his home. He said Clukey purchased a printer, scanner and copier and used it to make counterfeit currency, according to Ackerman.

City police searched 738 Summit Ave. and found the printer, scanner and copier in a second-floor bedroom, Ackerman said.

Police also found a trash can full of sheets of paper containing printed images of $20 bills. Police also found 15 images of counterfeit $10 bills in a safe in a kitchen, he said.

Ackerman said he met with Clukey on March 2 at the police department, and Clukey admitted to making non-genuine money.

When the March 1 search was conducted, five individuals were inside the Summit Avenue house, Ackerman said.

One of the individuals said Clukey “appeared to be the brains” behind the counterfeit money operation but that Sterling assisted, Ackerman said.

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