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Thursday, Jul 31, 2014

Trio arrested in counterfeit $20 bill scam

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ST. PETERSBURG — Stephanie Reilley recently purchased some panties at the Dillard’s store in the Tyrone Square Mall.

The panties were real. The $20 bill she used to acquire them was not.

Reilley, 32, her boyfriend, Simon Gibb, 36, and a second woman, Christy Hendershot, 36, have been arrested in connection with making bogus $20 bills with a copying machine at the home Reilley and Gibb share at 3229 64th St. N., authorities say.

The three typically would spend the fake money on small price items to acquire as much real cash in change as possible, according to court documents.

The panties Reilley bought Feb. 10 cost $4.27, according to an arrest affidavit. Three minutes later, she used another fake $20 bill to buy Godiva chocolate at the same Dillard’s, which cost $3.16, another arrest affidavit states.

Of the three, Reilley faces the most serious charges, including making or possessing instruments for forging bills.

She also was charged with 17 counts of uttering forged bills, and one count each of possession of more than 10 counterfeit bills and possession of a counterfeit instrument. She also faces charges of possession of crack cocaine, possession of hydromorphone, and possession of drug paraphernalia.

Reilley, who was arrested Friday, was being held at the Pinellas County Jail.

Hendershot, who lives in Pinellas Park, was arrested Tuesday on six counts of uttering forged bills, She too remains at the jail.

Gibb, Reilley’s boyfriend, was arrested Friday on one count of uttering a forged bill, and was released on his own recognizance.

In addition to Dillard’s, the trio successfully passed fake money at Home Depots in Pinellas Park and St. Petersburg, JCPenney at the Tyrone Square Mall, an Applebee’s restaurant, and a Panera Bread, court documents state.

Many of the transactions were captured on videotape.

Employees at Publix, 1600 66th St. N., and West Marine, 2010 Tyrone Blvd. N., recognized the $20 bills Reilley was trying to use as fake. After they pointed it out to her, she bolted, documents states.

The investigation began about the time investigators learned 37 counterfeit $20 bills had been passed at the Walmart at 3993 Tyrone Blvd., according to court documents.

Reilley and Hendershot were put under surveillance and were arrested in January after they were seen using the bogus $20 bills at the Home Depot in Pinellas Park, the documents say.

Hendershot told investigators Reilley gave her the $20 bills and that Gibb was the source, the documents say. She told them the couple fabricated the money at their home at 3229 64th St. N.

Investigators monitored telephone calls between Reilley, who was at the jail, and her boyfriend, and heard Reilley tell Gibb to check her underwear drawer to make sure no more counterfeit bills were lying around, the documents state.

The investigation continued after Hendershot and Reilley were released from the jail in late January, the documents state.

In February, detectives twice pulled the trash at the 64th Street address and found paper typically used to make counterfeit bills, 79 counterfeit bills, and three Epson printer cartridges, the documents state.

Then, on Friday, they served a search warrant at the address and found a printer and receipts for various establishments, but no fake money, the court documents state.

sthompson@tampatrib.com

(727) 215-6504

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