Matt Peterson, Austin Daily Herald, Minn. –
An Austin man who was arrested Monday after allegedly passing counterfeit money was charged Wednesday in Mower County Court.
Drew Novak, 18, faces one count of uttering or possessing counterfeit currency, a felony. Novak was arrested after officers identified him from video surveillance as the man who gave a fake $20 bill to a cashier at the Fourth Avenue NW Kwik Trip early Saturday, according to the court complaint.
Krueger said Novak came to the store around 12:30 a.m. Saturday to get change for a $20 bill. Novak received two $10 bills in return, according to the court complaint. Kwik Trip staff didn’t report the fake bill until about 6:15 a.m. Saturday. According to the court complaint, the employee noticed the bill was smaller than the others.
Novak has been interviewed about the counterfeit bill, part of a recent outbreak of fake currency in the area. According to the complaint, Novak told authorities he exchanged the bill for two $10 bills, as he owed someone $10. He also mentioned he received the bill from “someone,” but didn’t provide a name. Novak is being held in Mower County jail on $6,000 bail. If convicted, he could face as much as one year in jail and a $3,000 fine. His next court appearance is scheduled for March 1.
The Austin Area Chamber of Commerce sent an e-mail Friday afternoon, alerting the community and businesses that several $20 bills were discovered at local stores, too.
Of the four $20 bills found on Friday, each had one of two serial numbers: IA49588024C or IF77643033F.
The bills are slightly smaller than a genuine bill and the texture of the paper is slightly different, according to the Chamber. The bills are printed on poor-quality paper. The texture is smooth and feels more like typing paper than the safety paper used for currency.
According to Police Chief Brian Krueger, authorities are still investigating the matter and are not sure if there is a connection to the counterfeiters from Albert Lea who were recently sentenced to serve time in federal prison.