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3 charged with passing fake bills

By Seth Burkett 340-2355

LACEY'S SPRING —Deputies caught three people passing counterfeit bills at a store Tuesday night, Morgan County sheriff's investigators said.

A fourth person fled the scene when a clerk called police, but authorities expect to catch up to her soon, said Sgt. John Bili, chief investigator.

Bradley Allen Hambrick, 22, of 76 Hambrick Road, Lacey's Spring, James Christopher Kay, 19, of 10010 Todd Mill Road, Huntsville, and Porsha Lee Ann Swafford, 20, of 11829 Gateway Drive, Huntsville, each faces a charge of first-degree possession of a forged instrument, a Class B felony.

Bili said the group drove to stores in Huntsville and Lacey's Spring to use the phony $20 bills, printed on paper and all bearing the same serial number.

At about 7:30 p.m., "they stopped at the Food Town in Gasoline Alley (in Lacey's Spring) and passed one of the fake twenties. They went to the Wal-Mart in Huntsville and passed two more. From there, they ended up at Food Town again. They tried to pass two more there, trying to buy (pseudoephedrine), which is a known precursor for methamphetamine," Bili said.

"The clerk got suspicious because the bills felt funny and marked them to see if they were fake. She said, 'These are no good. Y'all stay here,' and went to call the sheriff's office," Bili said.

Shasta Finley, 21, of Lacey's Spring had remained outside in a vehicle and jumped out and ran, Bili said.

"There were units very close by," Bili said. "From the time the call went out, two minutes later a deputy was there."

Police found two more fake twenties in the vehicle, Bili said.

Bili said the counterfeits may look somewhat real, but they don't feel real to the touch. They are apparently copies of a real bill, he said.

"The number on all of them is the same. Somebody had taken one good twenty and forged it into multiple twenties," he said.

Bili said he would bring the matter to the U.S. Secret Service's attention.

Another counterfeit twenty had been passed at Food Town the previous day, but Bili said he did not know who was responsible. In the past six months, he said, there have been two reports of counterfeit bills, both hundreds, used in the Lacey's Spring area.

Hambrick also was arrested on outstanding warrants charging him with breaking and entering a vehicle and possessing a forged instrument. He remained in Morgan County Jail on Thursday in lieu of $2,250 bond. Kay and Swafford were released on $750 bond each.

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