ST. GEORGE – Two Las Vegas men were arrested for allegedly using counterfeit money at stores in St. George and Washington City Sunday.
St. George Police responded to Target, 275 S. River Road, where a man identified as 59-year-old Arthur O. Silva had attempted to use a fake $50 bill at the store, according to a probable cause statement.
Employees at the store confronted Silva about the allegedly counterfeit money and he left the store. He got into a white F-150 pickup truck with Nevada plates that was driven by another man. A witness followed the truck to the Washington City Walmart and contacted the Washington City Police Department.
A responding Washington City Police officer found the unoccupied truck in the parking lot and encountered Silva and another man, identified as 48-year-old Vincent M. Pirner, a short time later.
The officer spoke to Pirner and explained why he was there. He also asked if Pirner had money on him and if he could see it. Pirner said yes and allowed the officer to see a $100 bill from his wallet.
“The bill appeared to be counterfeit,” the officer wrote in the probable cause statement. “The printing of the bill was smeared and the texture of the paper appeared to be fake.”
The officer read him his rights. Pirner said he understood and was willing to keep talking. He denied knowing the $100 bill was fake.
After being given consent to search the interior of the vehicle, the officer found five more bills in the center console that “appeared to be obviously fake.”
The texture of the bills was wrong and the backs were extremely faded or smeared, the officer wrote.
Pirner said the bills were left in the truck by a woman in Las Vegas. After looking at the bills, he said they appeared to be fake. He had used a one of the $50 bills to buy items in Walmart, he said.
Using a receipt for the items Pirner bought inside, the officer contacted Walmart managers and they were able to match the receipt to the register it came from. A counterfeit $50 bill was found in the register.
The officer spoke to Silva next and informed him of his rights. Silva also agreed to talk to the officer and, according to what the officer wrote, “was very deceitful at first and told me several lies.”
He said Pirner had given him $100 from an envelope while in St. George to use at Harmons grocery store. He did so and also told the officer he knew the bills were fake due to their appearance, though he added Pirner never told him they were counterfeit.
Silva also told the officer about the attempt to use the $50 bill at Target. When that didn’t work, he said he gave the bill back to Pirner. Silva also said the counterfeit bills were kept in an envelope in a door panel of the truck, adding he didn’t know about the money in the center console.
“I asked Arthur (Silver) if Vincent (Pirner) knew that the money was fake,” the officer wrote. “Arthur stated that they never talked about it but (said) that I should take an educated guess.”
A St. George Police officer also interviewed Silva who repeated that he used the money at Harmons and also knew the money he received from Pirner was fake.
Both men were arrested and booked into the Washington County Purgatory Correctional Facility.
Pirner was charged with eight third-degree felony counts of forgery. Silva was charged with six third-degree felony counts of forgery, as well as a class B misdemeanor related to the items bought at Harmons with the counterfeit bill.
Both men are set to appear May 7 in 5th District Court before Judge Eric Ludlow.
Neither man has previous criminal history recorded in Utah, according to court records.
This report is based on statements from police and may not contain the full scope of findings. Persons arrested or charged are presumed innocent until found guilty in a court of law or as otherwise decided by a trier-of-fact.
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