Police arrest suspect in counterfeiting spree

By Jayson Jacoby / The Baker City Herald

By CHRIS COLLINS

ccollins@bakercityherald.com

Baker City Police have arrested a man they believe is part of a counterfeiting ring that's been passing fake money in the community for the past two weeks.

James Davis Hume, 31, was taken into custody at 7:24 p.m. Tuesday. He is being held at the Baker County Jail on two counts of first-degree forgery.

Hume had been living in a local motel. It's not clear where his permanent address is.

Police Chief Wyn Lohner said officer Shannin Zednik worked on the investigation over the weekend and identified Hume as a suspect based on information provided by a clerk at Bi-Mart who had accepted a counterfeit $20 bill during the course of business.

The clerk recalled that Hume displayed an Arizona drivers license when he was asked for identification at the store.

Zednik then kept an eye out for a vehicle with Arizona plates, and she saw one parked at the motel where Hume was staying.

Police also worked with Parole and Probation officers, who had prior contact with Hume, Lohner said. Follow-up work by detective Jay Lohner also helped identify the suspect.

"It was a good investigative effort by multiple officers throughout the department," the chief said.

On Tuesday, Hume checked out of the motel where he'd been living. He was spotted by officers Tuesday night on Resort Street near Washington Avenue, where he was taken into custody.

Lohner also credited the cooperation of store clerks in helping identify Hume as a suspect.

"I can't tell you how helpful businesses have been," he said. "The clerks have been very attentive and remembered details about the suspect."

A clerk at York's Grocery refused a suspicious bill from Hume Tuesday, and then was paid with genuine currency, Lohner said. The clerk called police with information about the suspect, who was driving a car with Arizona plates and was accompanied by an unidentified woman, Lohner said.

Old West Federal Credit Union and Kennedy's Eastside Grocery also reported receiving counterfeit bills Tuesday. Although most previous reports have involved fake $20 bills, Kennedy's reported a counterfeit $5 bill. Lohner said phony 5s and 10s also have been showing up in the community recently.

"This is another example of how policing a community goes way beyond the police," Lohner said. "It takes everybody working together."

Baker City officers will execute a search warrant today as the investigation continues and they will be working with a Union County detective and members of the Secret Service, who are expected to arrive in Baker City today. The counterfeit money also is being circulated in Union and Malheur counties and in parts of Idaho, Lohner said.

"We have a lot of follow-up to do to see how many more suspects we have - and we want to identify where the production is coming from," Lohner said.

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The Baker City Herald
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