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Police: Trio printed counterfeit currency in Athens hotel room.

Matthew James Smith

By Joe Johnson

Three people were arrested Tuesday for allegedly printing counterfeit currency in a room at westside hotel, Athens-Clarke County police said.

According to police, the ring was busted after employees at a food truck on King Avenue reported that a white female had passed “multiple” counterfeit $20 bills during the day

Officers located and arrested the woman at the scene, police she was identified as 44-yeae-old Jennifer Lea Pittman of Ashmore Drive.

Jennifer Lea Pittman

Detectives subsequently learned that Pittman she was staying at a hotel on Ultimate Drive off Atlanta Highway, where two of Pittman’s alleged accomplices were located, according to police. They were identified by police as Matthew James Smith, 39, of Stone Avenue and Joseph Lamar Sanders,47, of Chestnut Hill in Athens.

A search of the room found “evidence that led detectives to believe that counterfeit currency was being printed,” police said.

Joseph Lamar Sanders

Smith and Sanders were both charged with second-degree forgery for possessing bogus cash, police said, and Sanders was additionally charged with giving a false name to police.

Pittman was charged with two counts of first-degree for passing counterfeit currency and one count of second-degree forgery, police said.

Police acknowledged that there has been a recent spike in the passing of counterfeit currency, most of which consisted of smaller-denomination bills that don’t receive the same level of scrutiny ad do $50and $100 bills.

The counterfeits that have been recovered by police in recent cases do not feel like actual currency and the watermarks are missing, according to Detective Nathaniel Franco.

“A very cursory examination by employees would lead to less of these bills being passed,” said Franco, who reminded all retailers and cashiers to inspect all currency they receive during cash transactions

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