A Division IV volleyball sectional tournament at Barnesville High School was the latest school sporting event at which a counterfeit $50 bill was passed by an unknown male subject. Counterfeit bills were also reportedly found at the Auto Zone in St. Clairsville last week.
In a telephone interview on Thursday, School Resource Officer and Barnesville Police Department Officer Chris Hanes said he has identified a person of interest and was close to making an arrest.
Officer Hanes said the subject entered the building at during the second match, after tickets had stopped being sold and went straight to the bathroom, where he stayed for approximately for 10 minutes. After leaving the bathroom, the man went to the concession stand and purchased a sandwich and drink with a $50 bill, receiving change. The man stayed in lobby for a few minutes and then walked out of the building. The man was described as being in his late 20s to early 30s and was wearing a hat and a green hooded Aeropostale sweatshirt. He was described as being familiar with the building.
A volunteer concession stand worker became suspicious of the mans behavior after seeing a television news broadcast earlier that day. The witness observed the man, who was caught on school surveillance cameras, sitting in the lobby area. By the time the $50 bill was compared to other $50 bills, the man had left.
Hanes said he was checking on leads and working with other agencies.
I want to catch this guy, Hanes said.
The Tuesday, Oct. 16 incident was one of a rash of counterfeit money showing up at a variety of high school sporting events in the area within a one-week period. The first incident occurred Tuesday, Oct. 9 at a Martins Ferry volleyball game. Other schools that have fallen victim to the scheme include Bridgeport, Shadyside and St. Clairsville in Belmont County and Wheeling Park High School in West Virginia. Those schools had counterfeit money pass through their ticket or concession stands at football and volleyball games. Surveillance footage, as well as the counterfeit bills from the Bridgeport incident was also turned over to the Belmont County Sheriffs Department.
In Shadyside, a total of $280 (four $50 bills and four $20 bills) in counterfeit money was accepted at a concession stand during a Friday, Oct. 12 football game.
According to reports, the bills all had the same serial numbers. The bills were not recognized as counterfeit until they were deposited at First National Bank and none of the concession stand workers there remembered who had passed the bills.
In St. Clairsville, the operators of the concession stand at the football stadium accepted $250 in counterfeit bills during a game there on Friday. The St. Clarisville Band Parents, who operate the stand accepted 50s and 20s.
The Barnesville incident is the first in which the person who passed the counterfeit bills was identified at the time.
Authorities suspect that the bills are being passed at school sporting events because the money is taken by students and parent volunteers who are not trained to look for counterfeit bills.
Barnesville Exempted Village School District Treasure Matt King, who had been at the bank making a deposit on a Saturday when St. Clairsville discovered the counterfeit bills, placed an order for pens that check the authenticity of bills before the Oct. 16 incident occurred.