WATERVILLE — A Belgrade man with a long criminal record was arrested Tuesday and charged with aggravated forgery for allegedly printing and spending counterfeit money.
Jeremy McCaslin, 37, of West Road, Belgrade, allegedly passed thousands of dollars in counterfeit money in the area in the past few weeks, according to police Chief Joseph Massey.
“He told Detective David Caron he was an addict and he was printing the money mostly to pass to drug dealers to pay for his drugs,” Massey said Wednesday.
More people might be charged in the case, according to Massey. Police in other communities where bills were passed plan to meet to see whether those incidents are connected to McCaslin, he said.
Winslow police Lt. Josh Veilleux said police there are investigating three recent reports of counterfeit bills. On Monday, someone tried to pass a $10 bill at the J&S Oil gas station, but the clerk quickly checked it and determined it was fake, Veilleux said.
Fairfield police Detective Sgt. Kingston Paul said someone from the Circle K station on Main Street reported receiving a $100 counterfeit bill Tuesday.
Oakland police Capt. Rick Stubbert said Wednesday that police have received no reports of counterfeit money passed there.
In Waterville, police started getting calls Jan. 17 from Waterville businesses that had received counterfeit bills, according to Massey.
They included Irving, Cumberland Farms, PT Cab, Hannaford at Elm Plaza, Family Dollar, On the Run, J&S Oil, Big Apple on Elm Street, and Little Caesar’s Pizza on Upper Main Street.
Waterville police on Monday got a break in the case when a cab driver reported he had picked someone up at J&S Oil on Kennedy Memorial Drive and drove him to Belgrade, where he paid his cab fare with counterfeit money, Massey said.
McCaslin apparently was able to pass the bills at businesses and leave quickly enough so that employees did not have time to realize they were counterfeit, Massey said. He added that McCaslin told police he knew drug dealers would not report him to police.
“Printing money and passing it around — you’re burning a lot of businesses. I can’t say I feel too sorry for the drug dealers,” Massey said.
When police went to McCaslin’s Belgrade home armed with a search warrant Tuesday, they saw him leave in a car with another person, Massey said. Some police followed him into Waterville, where he was arrested on Kennedy Memorial Drive, according to Massey.
“He had two printers in the car, and there were also some sheets of money that had not been cut — about $600 in different denomination bills,” he said.
Massey said the bills McCaslin passed were printed on paper much smoother than that of legitimate bills.
At his home in Belgrade, police found paper that indicated he was printing bills, Massey said.
“The reason he left with the printers was, he decided he didn’t want to continue doing it at home and was en route to a friend’s house to set up shop,” he said.
Aggravated forgery is a Class B felony, punishable by up to 10 years in prison, Massey said. McCaslin also was charged with two counts of unlawful possession of scheduled drugs, he said.
He was taken to the Kennebec County jail in Augusta and is scheduled to appear April 23 in Kennebec County Superior Court.
Massey said police notified the U.S. Secret Service because that agency has authority in cases related to counterfeit money and could charge McCaslin on a federal level as well.
McCaslin has been convicted of more than two dozen crimes dating back to 1996, according to Waterville police records.
They include unlawful furnishing of drugs, sexual abuse of a minor, aggravated assault and eluding an officer.
Amy Calder — 861-9247