Martin County students accused of passing counterfeit money

JENSEN BEACH, Fla. - Detectives said their investigation into lunch money at Jensen Beach High School led to them uncovering a counterfeit bill operation and arresting four students Friday.

The school's bank notified the administration last week that counterfeit money had been passed in the cafeteria, the Martin County Sheriff's Office said. In response, cafeteria staff began using counterfeit detector pens on cash, the Sheriff's Office said. When fake bills were used for lunch on April 27, a school resource deputy questioned a 15-year-old female student and a 16-year-old male student.

Two other students were implicated for passing the fake money around to their friends, detectives said. One of them, a 15-year-old freshman, was the producer of the counterfeit lunch money, the Sheriff's Office said.

The freshman initially said he received the money from a drug dealer in Stuart, and then claimed to have received it during a drug deal with a sixth-grader, detectives said. He later recanted and said he printed the money on his family's home computer. The freshman said he asked his parents to buy him the resume paper to produce the counterfeit money, detectives said. He told them it was for a class project. Detectives found several sheets of the paper in the student's bedroom.

The freshman said he spent the fake money at multiple stores in Jensen Beach, the Sheriff's Office said. He directed investigators to a science classroom trash can where he had thrown away several bills after hearing school resource officers were questioning one of his friends, detectives said. They said they found another fake bill in a trash can at Winn-Dixie on Jensen Beach Boulevard.

The freshman and three other students were charged with uttering counterfeit bills Friday at the Martin County Jail and released to their parents.

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