Police say Justin Berl Morgan, 23, passed a phony $20 bill at the Rogersville McDonald’s restaurant on Route 66 Saturday night around 11 p.m.
RPD Officer Chris Pinkston told the Times-News that Morgan returned to the Rogersville McDonald’s shortly before 9:30 p.m. Sunday and attempted to pay for a value meal with another phony $20 bill.
“When he saw the clerk checking the bill with one of those counterfeit detecting markers he just floored it and got out of there,” Pinkston said.
Rogersville police obtained a vehicle description from witnesses and issued a BOLO (be on the lookout).
Morgan then allegedly went to the Surgoinsville Market on Highway 11-W and unsuccessfully attempted to pass another phony $20 bill. Surgoinsville Police Department Officer Jeff Greer said he too obtained a description of the vehicle, which matched the BOLO from Rogersville.
Morgan was subsequently stopped by Church Hill Officer Bryan Pellagrino late Sunday night.
“The Church Hill officer pulled him over, and he started making statements to the fact that he had counterfeit money and tried to pass some,” Greer said. “They took him out and patted him down and found about $1,500 worth of counterfeit money on him. There was about 13 or 14 $100 bills and the rest was $20s.”
Greer said the quality of the phony bills was not good.
They appeared to be printed from a computer, the color was off, and they were printed on plain paper and didn’t feel like real money, Greer said.
“But, with the holiday rush, if you get a clerk who has a long line and is rushed to get everyone through, I can see how someone would accept it,” Greer said.
Morgan allegedly gave Surgoinsville and Church Hill police a phony name before admitting to his real name at the Hawkins County Jail. He was charged with two counts of criminal simulation by the RPD, and one by the SPD, as well as one count of criminal impersonation by the Church Hill and Surgoinsville police.
Jail officers said he would be held without bond until Wednesday, at which time his bond would be $5,000.
Greer said anyone who believes they may have accepted a phony bill from Morgan is asked to contact their city police department, or if they’re outside a city, the Hawkins County Sheriff’s Office.