11/21/2003

Secret Service Investigating Counterfeit Cash in Minn.

The Associated Press

MOORHEAD, Minn. (AP) -- The Secret Service is investigating a St. Paul man police arrested Tuesday for attempting to pass fake $20 bills at a Moorhead music store.

Shannon Jay Gutzke, 21, was charged Thursday with aggravated forgery. A Clay County district judge set bail at $3,000.

On Wednesday, Secret Service agents questioned Gutzke in the Clay County Jail.

"They may charge him federally if the money circulated," said Moorhead Police Lt. Chris Carey. "They're (the Secret Service) waiting to see if bills come up in Fargo."

Moorhead police are in contact with other police departments looking for counterfeit money passed by Gutzke, Carey said. One of those departments is in Fergus Falls, where authorities believe Gutzke stayed with friends early this week.

Fergus Falls Public Safety Chief John Wagner said police haven't recovered any fake money they believe was passed by Gutzke.

That could change soon.

If Gutzke spent counterfeit money in Fergus Falls, and the bogus money reached banks, the Federal Reserve would return any counterfeits.

Wagner believes there are other suspects, but Gutzke is the only person charged so far in the investigation.

"It's an open investigation being conducted by local authorities," said Timothy Kozak, a special agent with the Secret Service in charge with the Minneapolis office. "You can say we're assisting locals with their investigation."

Carey said the counterfeit $20 bills were produced on a high-quality ink jet printer, but weren't designed well.

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