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Mahwah, Ramsey police nab accused counterfeiters from Route 17 businesses

Photo Credit: Courtesy MAHWAH PD

YOU READ IT HERE FIRST: Two Union County ex-cons thought that using a special marking pen would convince employees at The Home Depot on Route 17 in Mahwah that counterfeit bills they passed weren’t fake, but workers sniffed them out — and police arrested both.

A township police officer and a detective from Ramsey grabbed the pair as they left the store yesterday afternoon after passing a $100 bill, Mahwah Police Chief James Batelli said this morning.

Besides the pen, which is used to mark forgeries, officers found the two with other bogus bills bearing serial numbers consistent with funny money passed at other businesses in both municipalities, he said.

“Local Mahwah businesses as well as surrounding towns have received numerous reports of bogus $100 and $50 bills being passed in recent months,” the chief said.

In virtually every instance, the thieves bought relatively small-value items with the larger bills and pocketed the change, he said.

Officer Brendan Mullin was met at the Home Depot around noon yesterday by Ramsey Detective Bradford Smith, who identified the defendants’ Toyota Camry after checking with various businesses along Route 17 in his town.

Together, the two officers took Tyshon Phipps, 34 (above, left), of Roselle, and 35-year-old Edward Fish (above, right) of Linden into custody.

“Invoices from stores in other jurisdictions were found in their possession,” Batelli said, adding that an investigation was continuing.

By using the counterfeit detection pen — which produces a yellowish mark on notes printed on standard printer or photocopier paper — the defendants hoped to dupe employees into thinking that the bills “has already been swiped and were legitimate currency,” the chief said.

It didn’t work.

Phipps and Fish were charged with forgery in Mahwah. Phipps also was charged with theft and obstruction in both towns — for giving police false ID — after bogus bills were passed at Pathmark, Five Guys and Radio Shack in Ramsey, in addition to The Home Depot. Fish with conspiracy in Mahwah and forgery and criminal attempt in Ramsey.

Phipps was being held on a combined $60,000 bail in the Bergen County JailFish was being held on a combined $20,000 bail.


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