Updated: January 21, 2020 05:24 PM
Created: January 21, 2020 01:16 PM
ROCHESTER, N.Y. (WHEC) — Monroe County Sheriff's deputies arrested a Rochester man for producing and distributing counterfeit $50 bills.
Hilton Johns, 24, faces charges in the case.
Investigators say they identified Johns as a suspect between October and November. In December, deputies arrested him for four counts of criminal possession of a forged instrument. They say Johns was arraigned and released to the Ontario County Sheriff's Office on an outstanding warrant and then released.
On the same day as his release, Brighton Police arrested Johns on another count of criminal possession of a forged instrument. Investigators say he again faced a judge, and was released.
Deputies say that following his release, Johnson continued to pass counterfeit bills from the Rochester area to the Syracuse area. They say three bench warrants have been issued for Johns for failing to appear in court.
In a news release, investigators cite new criminal justice reform laws for Johns being repeatedly released from custody.
"It's extremely frustrating for law enforcement in general that there are so many offenses now that don't qualify for setting bail and the individuals are released back out into the public where they continue to victimize people and merchants," MCSO Investigator Erick Mezzoprete said. "Now we have to go through the whole process of locating him again and there's no guarantee that when we do get hands on him he's going to end up in jail."
Investigators say the counterfeit bills have been passed primarily at local pharmacies, pizza parlors, coffee shops and grocery stores, and they believe Johns has people working with him on this scheme.
The Monroe County Sheriff's Office is asking the public and businesses to be on the lookout for counterfeit $50 bills. Anyone with information is asked to call the office's tip line at 585-753-4175.
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