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Police bust Fargo-Moorhead counterfeit ring

WEST FARGO - Metro police dismantled a significant counterfeiting operation this week, leading to several arrests.

Authorities confiscated scanners, printers and solution for washing bills while executing a search warrant in Moorhead, West Fargo Police Detective Sgt. Greg Warren said this morning.

Metro police working on the case shut down the counterfeit lab and seized more than $5,000 in counterfeit bills, a news release issued today by West Fargo police.

Further, the Secret Service called the operation one of the largest in the metro area's history, and the U.S. Attorney's Office is considering federal charges, according to the news release.

Charged in Clay County District Court are:

- Earl St. Claire Jr., 20, of Moorhead with three felony counts of counterfeiting of currency

- Rachel Thompson, 21, of Fargo with three felony counts of counterfeiting of currency

- Brandon Anderton, 21, of Moorhead with a gross misdemeanor charge of counterfeiting of currency

While investigating the case, authorities also arrested Bradley Poitra, 42, of Wahpeton, N.D., on an active warrant.

The arrests come amid a rash of reports of fake bills being passed at metro area businesses. The Fargo Police Department alone has investigated more than a dozen cases of counterfeit bills passed at businesses since mid-May.

Authorities apparently broke the case open Sunday with the arrest of 21-year-old Robert Lee Flores of Moorhead, who allegedly used fake $20 bills to purchase Red River Valley Fair tickets at a Stop-N-Go in West Fargo. Authorities tracked Flores to the fair Sunday night and arrested him. On Monday morning, they searched the Pontiac Grand Am he allegedly drove to the fair and found more fake bills that appeared to be leftovers from a counterfeit printing operation.

Warren said thousands of dollars in counterfeit bills were confiscated with the equipment in Moorhead.

"It's probably one of the better organized ones that we've seen in a while," he said of the operation.