Saturday | December 16, 2017
About Us | Contact | Subscribe

Counterfeit case moves toward trial

Updated: 
October 26, 2017 - 12:05am

KAILUA-KONA — The counterfeit $100 bills allegedly used by Matthew Cummings at various Kona and Ocean View businesses appeared to be washed $5 bills, according to testimonies at a preliminary hearing Wednesday.

Cummings, 36, of Honaunau, was taken into custody Friday in connection to several reports of counterfeit money passed at businesses on Oct. 10 and 17. During Wednesday’s hearing, cashiers from the various establishments testified about receiving the counterfeit bills. Cummings faces four counts each of first-degree forgery and fourth-degree theft. After police executed a search warrant on his Honaunau home, Cummings was also charged with an additional count of first-degree forgery and third-degree promoting detrimental drugs.

Randall Delaries, cashier at the Shell gas station in Captain Cook, took the stand Wednesday. He described to the court how he received five $100 bills the day he accepted a $100 bill from Cummings.

Delaries went on to explain he had used a counterfeit-detection pen on all the $100 bills. He told the court the mark on the bill comes out clear if it’s real currency – it comes out black if it is fake.

Delaries said it was his boss who showed him the bill had the wrong watermark, after further review of it in the light.

While he did take in five $100 bills that day, Delaries identified Cummings, through photos given to him by police, as the individual who gave him the fake money.

Cummings’ defense attorney Ann Datta questioned the cashier further on this point.

“Five people gave you $100 bills that day. How did you connect this individual with the counterfeit bill?” Datta asked Delaries.

Delaries said he didn’t know the bill was counterfeit until the next day and that he couldn’t positively connect Cummings to the bill.

The next witness to take the stand was Jayson Zhang, cashier from Ocean View’s L&L. He testified that the suspect used a $100 bill to buy one dish. While he suspected it might be counterfeit, the detection pen cleared it as a real bill.

Still suspicious of the bill, Zhang kept it out of the register. He spoke to a regular customer about it later that night who suggested holding it to the light. When he did, Zhang testified he saw the number five marked on the bill.

Authorities who investigated the various cases also took the stand. Hawaii Police Officer Gavin Hayworth testified about when he took a forgery report at the Honalo gas station on Oct. 10. He said the cashier had accepted a $100 bill from an individual who purchased $10 in groceries.

“It was only upon close inspection they learned it was a $5 bill washed to be a $100 bill,” Hayworth said.

The officer told the court he was contacted by another Hawaii police officer who had been working a forgery case at the Captain Cook Shell gas station with circumstances similar to the Honalo incident.

“The serial numbers on the counterfeit bills passed in both cases matched,” Hayworth said.

With surveillance captured at the Captain Cook gas station, Hayworth said, police were able to get images of the suspect, his truck and license plate. With that they were able to generate a photographic line up, which was used to show cashiers in hopes of identifying the suspect.

Hayworth explained he was returning to the Kealakekua police station after showing the lineup to one of the clerks when he saw the suspect’s vehicle driving toward him on Highway 11. He did a U-turn and stopped Cummings at the McDonald’s near Halekii Street, where Cummings was then taken into custody.

During a search of Cummings, Hayworth recovered a cellphone, wallet and a bundle of cash. He testified that he didn’t check to see if any of the money was counterfeit.

Hayworth also assisted in the search warrant on Cummings’ Honaunau residence. He told the court he observed printers with a large pile of cash, possibly marijuana and practice prints of U.S. currency.

Hawaii Police Detective Pernell Hanoa was the last to take the stand. He testified that every bill recovered from the businesses had the same serial number. He explained two bills were passed at Walmart, one at the Honalo gas station, one at the Captain Cook Shell and one at L&L in Ocean View.

Hanoa said he was present during the search of Cummings’ vehicle, where authorities found printer paper and receipts from the locations where the $100 bills were accepted.

The detective was also present during the search of the suspect’s home, where officers recovered three printers; a bottle of degreaser, which is used to remove ink from the bill itself; and throughout the kitchen drawers, bills with the same serial number as the ones used at the various businesses.

Cummings’ wallet contained two $20 bills that also appeared to be counterfeit, Hanoa said.

When Hanoa initially interviewed Cummings, the detective testified the suspect at first denied having knowledge of the bills. The detective told the court Cummings later admitted to receiving the bills through a friend, however he did not release a name.

After listening to testimony, Judge Margaret Masunaga determined there was sufficient evidence to continue the case in 3rd Circuit Court. A hearing has been scheduled for Nov. 1.

Masunaga maintained Cummings’ bail at $130,000.

Rules for posting comments