Three Bellefonte teens face charges stemming from an investigation into counterfeit bills that had reportedly been used at businesses around Bellefonte and Spring Township.
According to Spring Township police, officers from Spring Township and Bellefonte police departments began searching for a man in late November who was allegedly trying to pass counterfeit bills. The suspect was last seen attempting to pass $80 at the Bellefonte Subway.
The employee had reportedly become suspicious because of the way the money felt, police said. Surveillance footage at the restaurant identified the suspect as Jonathan Berenty, police said. The money used in that instance is reportedly tied in with a Spring Township case first reported on Nov. 20.
Berently was interviewed at the Bellefonte police station, police said, and reported trying to use counterfeit money at several businesses. He told police he had gotten about $840 from a safe he allegedly stole from Allen M. Weaver, 18. He said he later disposed of the safe.
Premium content for only $0.99
For the most comprehensive local coverage, subscribe today.
He told officers he realized the money might be fake after he attempted to spend some at the Benner Pike Sheetz and a clerk refused to accept the bills after testing it with a special pen. But he told police he needed the money and spent it, acknowledging it was a “bad idea.”
Officers spoke with Weaver, who reportedly admitted he and a friend agreed to order counterfeit money on the darknet for about $150. He reported there had been “lots of money” in the safe — police reported up to $2,000 in counterfeit cash — which he split with Zachary P. Cronin, 18.
Weaver reported spending $200-300 himself before the rest was taken by Berenty, police said. Cronin allegedly did not have his share anymore.
Officers interviewed Cronin, police said, who reported he had gotten the currency to “start out small and see how it went.” He reported receiving the money about three weeks prior, spending about $200-300, but shredded the rest before Thanksgiving.
Officers took complaints from several area businesses in late November, police said, including a complaint from Lykens Market, reporting $150 in counterfeit bills had been passed to them. The bank had reportedly kept $40 to pass to the U.S. Secret Service and returned the rest to the store.
Officers were able to get five $20 bills and a $10 bill and entered them into evidence, police said.
Bellefonte police reported that $60 in counterfeit bills had been passed at the Bellefonte Burger King, police said, while the M&T Bank of Bellefonte had confirmed $125 in counterfeit bills had been turned over to the Secret Service.
Berenty, Weaver and Cronin were all arraigned via summons through District Judge Kelley Gillette-Walker, according to court documents, and each faces a misdemeanor charge of theft by deception and receiving stolen property. Preliminary hearings for Weaver and Cronin are set for Jan. 24, and a hearing for Berenty is scheduled for Feb. 7.