NEW MILFORD, N.J.(CBSNewYork) — The arrest of five New Jersey teens for allegedly making counterfeit $20 bills and using them at local businesses has shocked students at their high school.
The bills were first discovered at a Dunkin’ Donuts on River Road in New Milford, police said.
Video from a store surveillance system captured the teens wearing New Milford school attire using the bills, which all had the same serial number, on April 25 and May 8, authorities said.
“When I opened the paper this morning, I was like ‘Oh my God,'” New Milford High School senior Joe Victory told CBS 2’s Andrea Grymes.
As CBS 2’s Andrea Grymes reported, students at the New Milford High School were filled with shock and disbelief upon hearing the allegations.
“When I opened the paper this morning, I was like ‘Oh my God,'” said New Milford High School senior Joe Victory.
Victory told Grymes he can’t believe his friends were arrested for making and using the fake money.
“They’re just average guys, I never really thought anything of it,” Victory said. “Not any smarter than any other kid.”
New Milford senior Jeff McSweeney called the students who were arrested “really nice people,” while senior Sean Reis said: “They don’t get into trouble. They’re smart; like, I just wouldn’t expect it.”
Police believe the fake bills were also used at a local 7-Eleven, and even at the high school cafeteria.
Investigator said the ringleader made the counterfeit money at home. Police recovered a HP Deskjet printer/copier, a box of resume paper, a counterfeit $20 bill and five uncut $5 bills. All the bills had the same serial number.
“What you’re dealing with here is a crime against the United States government. It’s serious stuff,” said New Milford police Chief Frank Papapietro. “Had they been charged as adults, they’d be facing federal prison time.”
One student admitted to making $1,000 in counterfeit bills, police said.
Students at New Milford High School told Grymes the scheme was the talk of the school Thursday.
“We’re an innocent town; like, nothing really happens here that often,” Alyssa Solonkovich said. “So, like, that was really, like, surprising.”
Some classmates told CBS 2 they heard about the scheme even before the group got busted.
“I wasn’t surprised they got caught,” said senior Rob Bowers, “because it’s kind of a stupid thing to get caught for.”
Investigators have not released the students’ names, since they are minors. They did say the students’ parents have all been cooperative.
Police said all five students were facing charges as juveniles – including theft by deception and possession of a forgery device. Investigators said they were all released to their parents.
Police also the Secret Service told them the phony bills were used in Dumont and Paramus.
Since the students are juveniles, it is not clear whether they will face jail time.
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