A burglary call on Monday led deputies to evidence they say is connected to a rash of counterfeit bills that have showed up at Del Norte and Curry counties businesses lately.
Deputies arrested Keith Hulford, 30, at 10 p.m. Monday in connection with the evidence they found earlier that morning at a home in Smith River, according to Sgt. Richard Griffin of the Del Norte County Sheriff's Office.
A resident at the home had been holding the copier and resume paper for Hulford, according to Del Norte County Sheriff Dean Wilson.
Hulford was arrested at his home on the 700 block of Vipond Drive near Lake Earl, Griffin said. Deputies are also on the lookout for Hulford's mother, Lisa Hulford, 47, and his girlfriend, Elis Dickson, 26, who are suspects in the case, Griffin said.
"I want to get their names out there so businesses know who these people are," Griffin said. "We get a lot of businesses who don't report it because they don't think anything's going to be done. But we want to know about it, so they need to report it."
Hulford's arrest comes after deputies found a copy machine, a ream of resume paper and some real $20 and $10bills inside a crate at a Smith River home at about 10:40 a.m. on Monday. Griffin said the homeowner interrupted a burglary-in-progress involving another resident, found the crate and called deputies.
"When I looked at it there were three original$20 bills and a $10 bill with matching serial numbers. We call them masters," Griffin said. "They were just copying this money (using) resume paper, so it's a little bit thicker. They were just copying the $20 bills, $10 bills; we've seen up to $100 bills."
Keith Hulford's Monday arrest was his second in three days. Deputies arrested Keith Hulford and Dickson on suspicion of possessing drugs and maintaining a drug house on Friday on the 700 block of Vipond Drive after neighbors reported a loud grinding noise, Griffin said. During a probation search of the house, deputies found methamphetamine and meth pipes, he said.
Deputies also arrested Ryland Caudell, 33, of Brookings; Erin Shelton, 22, of Brookings and Drew Roberts, 50, of Crescent City, Griffin said. Caudell has two counterfeit money cases pending in Curry County, and Shelton has two cases involving fake money pending in Del Norte, according to Griffin.
Keith Hulford and Dickson bailed out of jail following the Friday arrest, Griffin said.
According to Griffin, the Vipond Drive home is currently in foreclosure. The Sheriff's Office is currently working with Del Norte County Code Enforcement to address numerous violations there, he said.
"They're not even supposed to be living there," Griffin said. "They are in the process of being evicted out of there, and the trailer on the property is not supposed to be there."
Counterfeit bills have turned up at six local gas stations, Elk Valley and Lucky 7 casinos and Walmart in Crescent City, Griffin said. Counterfeit money has also appeared at a Shell gas station outside of Brookings. Griffin said he and other deputies working with the Curry County Sheriff's Office identified Dickson and Keith Hulford as the suspects in the Curry County case using the vehicle's license plate.
Del Norte County Sheriff Dean Wilson said he's hoping the copier and resume paper found in Smith River will lead to fingerprints and other evidence to solidify his department's case against Lisa and Keith Hulford.
"We always suspected these individuals as being directly connected to it," Wilson said. "However, especially finding originals. ... This development really helps in tying it all together."
Businesses should examine cash they receive from customers more closely at the time of transaction, according to the Del Norte County Sheriffs Office. The resume paper deputies think the suspects were using is thicker than real bills and frays more easily, Griffin said.
Businesses should also report suspected counterfeit money by calling the Sheriff's Office at 464-4191, Griffin said.
More information about counterfeit money can be found atwww.secretservice.gov/know_your_money.
Reach Jessica Cejnar at email@example.com.