Police seize counterfeit money
Kerry Craig | News-Telegram Assistant Editor

Police Det. Monty Tipps shows a few of the counterfeit $5, $10 and $20 bills confiscated by officers Wednesday.
Staff Photo By Angela Pitts

Aug. 11, 2005 -- Using a cheap photocopy machine, a 31-year-old Hooks man bilked local businesses out of an undetermined amount of money and merchandise before he was arrested by police officers and state troopers at a local motel.

Sulphur Springs Police Det. Monty Tipps said police had received several calls in recent days about counterfeit money being passed to local merchants, including a restaurant where several counterfeit $20 bills had been passed.

“We got a call from an auto parts store where an extremely large man had walked in and had the name ‘Tiny’ on the back of his head,” Tipps said. “He attempted to buy an auto part and tried to pay for it with a fake $20 bill.”

The store clerk recognized the phony money. The customer apologized and said he would get his checkbook from his car, but never returned to the store.

A short time later, after area law enforcement agencies were notified of the incident, Texas Department of Public Safety Trooper Trent Price spotted a possible suspect on the parking lot of a local motel.

“I was passing through the parking lot of the Best Western and happened to see a man fitting that description in the parking lot.” Price said. “I turned around to make contact with him and he was gone.”

Minutes later the trooper found a pickup matching the description of the one driven by the suspect parked in front of a room at the motel and called the police department for assistance.

Lt. Bo Fox and officer Jameson Hawkins were first to arrive at the motel when Price knocked on the door of the motel room.

“A large white male answered the door and was kind of hesitant about what was going on and kept asking why we were wanting to talk to him,” Price said. “I asked him to turn around, and he had “Tiny” tattooed on the back of his head.”

Officers were given consent to enter the room where they found evidence indicating the man was the one sought by police in connection with the bogus money.

Tipps said a color copier was in plain sight when officers entered the room, along with some wadded up counterfeit money in a trash bag.

When asked for identification, the man gave officers the name of another person, according to Tipps.

“I determined the name he gave was not his name,” the detective said. “I actually knew the person, and it was not him.”

Investigators identified the suspect as Kenneth Cheatwood, 31, of Hooks. Cheatwood’s drivers license showed him to be a big man, 6 feet, 8 inches tall and weighing 400 pounds.

A check of the identification revealed the man was named in a “blue warrant” from the Texas Department of Pardons and Paroles for a parole violation, along with a warrant issued in Miller County, Ark.

Tipps said he contacted Secret Service agents in Tyler because of the apparent counterfeiting operation. Officers from that agency took over the investigation, and federal charges were expected to be filed Thursday.

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