Counterfeiting cash. It’s something you see on TV and in movies often; surely it doesn’t happen in real life. But it does. Sometimes we get warning by local authorities about counterfeit bills getting passed around, but we don’t often hear about their origin. Earlier this week, however, two eastern Wyoming men were charged with creating fake cash.
James Eugene Watkins and Russ Jay Welch Jr., of the Newcastle area, have both been charged with counterfeiting and forging U.S. money, as well as attempting to use the fake money. If convicted, each of the men could get up to 40 years in prison and or fined up to $500,000.
According to the complaint filed in federal court, the case began on April 5 when Newcastle Police were alerted that Welch allegedly attempted to use a counterfeit $100 bill to purchase snacks at a convenience store. Detectives reviewed security footage from the store and saw what appeared to be additional counterfeit bills in Welch’s hand.
A search warrant was executed at Welch’s home in Osage, where Watkins was also reportedly present. The search found a copier/scanner/printer, multiple counterfeit bills, and pieces of paper with images of bills, the court documents state. Serial numbers on fake bills found at the home reportedly matched the ones used at the convenience store and another local incident.
During an interview, Watkins reportedly admitted to printing the counterfeit bills and said he was working on perfecting his design.
Detectives also learned that the camper searched at Welch’s place had been purchased in South Dakota using $200 in counterfeit bills.