ST. GEORGE — A verbal altercation that caught the attention of bystanders led to the arrest of a St. George couple Friday who are accused of allegedly being involved in a counterfeiting operation that took place at a local motel.
On Thursday, officers responded to an altercation on 300 East where witnesses said a couple was outside of their vehicle yelling at each other, one of whom was 28-year-old Stephanie Cope, according to the probable cause statement filed in support of her arrest.
A K-9 unit was deployed to the scene. While police were speaking with the suspect, the animal sniffed around the perimeter of the vehicle and indicated to the possible presence of drugs, prompting officers to conduct a search of the vehicle.
During the search, the report states, officers recovered multiple syringes containing a brown substance inside of a purse. Cope allegedly admitted it was hers and went on to tell police that the substance inside the syringes was heroin.
According to the probable cause statement, officers at the scene Sept. 4 noted that Cope matched the description of a woman seen on surveillance footage who allegedly passed a counterfeit $50 bill at the Tag and Go car wash a few days before, as did the vehicle the suspect was driving when the altercation took place.
While speaking with Cope about the incident at the car wash, police say she told them she received the bill from her boyfriend who instructed her to take it to the clerk inside and ask for change. She said she did and gave the change to her boyfriend.
Shortly thereafter, officers were advised by police dispatch that Cope had active misdemeanor warrants for her arrest, and she was taken into custody and transported to Purgatory Correctional Facility on the warrants as well as one third-degree felony count of forgery.
Through the course of the investigation, officers learned the counterfeit money was being printed out of a room at the nearby Super 8 Motel on St. George Blvd. and were advised that inside of the room they would find a printer allegedly used for making the counterfeit currency.
Officers responded to the room and identified 52-year-old Nathan Detroit by his Oregon driver’s license, which was presented to the hotel clerk when he rented the room even though court records indicate that Detroit is a current resident of St. George.
During a cursory search of the room, officers located a printer and two $50 bills that were “obviously counterfeit,” the officer noted in the report.
Once a search warrant was obtained, a more thorough search of the room was conducted, which is when officers found a Canon printer with markings on the scanner screen showing where to specifically place the bills to scan them properly.
A number of chemicals were also recovered from inside the room that appeared to be used to wash single dollar bills that were then modified into $50 bills, along with two recently washed dollar bills that had the ink and marking removed from the surface of the note.
“I could faintly see the markings left behind from the incomplete job of whitewashing the paper,” the officer noted, which “confirmed the process being used to create the counterfeit money.”
The officer also noted the items were all located in common areas inside the motel room.
Inside of one of the room’s trash cans, officers also recovered a number of used syringes, and inside of the nightstand, they found a small baggie containing a crystal substance. Also found inside of a tissue box affixed to the wall were two plastic baggies containing the same crystal substance, all of which was consistent with methamphetamine.
Detroit was arrested and transported to Purgatory Correctional Facility facing four second-degree felony counts of producing or transferring any false identification document, a single count of third-degree possession of a forgery device and misdemeanor drug-paraphernalia possession charges. The suspect remains in custody on $45,050 bail.
Following the police investigation, Cope faces additional charges that were submitted to the Washington County Attorney’s Office for review, including four third-degree felony counts of producing or transferring any false identification document, third-degree felony possession of a forgery device and misdemeanor drug-paraphernalia possession charges. The suspect remains in custody on a $30,030 bail.
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