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Counterfeit bills lead to Stateline arrest

Christina Proctor

A South Lake Tahoe man whom authorities believe might be linked to $40,000 worth of counterfeit money passed in four states was arrested Tuesday at Caesars Tahoe.

Paul James Kempel, 25, was taken into custody around 9:30 p.m. after after he allegedly tried to use a counterfeit $100 bill. Douglas County Sheriff’s deputies questioned Kempel’s friend and learned that the two were at Lakeside Inn and Casino earlier in the evening and Kempel allegedly used several large bills while gambling there.

Lakeside security contacted investigators Tuesday night after finding two $100 counterfeit bills in the daily drop. The bills were the same series and serial number as the bill from Caesars, investigators said.

A Secret Service agent and Detective Brian Williams of the South Lake Tahoe Police Department served a search warrant at Kempel’s apartment on the 4000 block of Lake Tahoe Boulevard Wednesday.

Detective Williams said the search uncovered $8,700 in counterfeit $100 bills – all with the same serial number as the bills found at Caesars and Lakeside. Williams said there was also a counterfeit detection pen at the apartment.

“Real money doesn’t have wood fibers in it,” Williams explained. “When you write on real money with the detection pen it is barely visible. The detection pen highlights the wood fiber in counterfeit bills.”

Investigators said that 1996 series $100 counterfeit bills with the serial number AL92415558C have been turning up since Feb. 27 in Southern California, Arizona, Nevada, and Washington. The phony bills have an apparent watermark and the strip that was suppose to make the new $100 bills harder to copy.

Kempel was charged in Douglas County with possession of forged bills, a category C felony that carries a maximum of 5 years in state prison, and uttering a forged instrument. A preliminary hearing is set for June 10 in Douglas County Tahoe Justice Court.

Detective Williams said he recommended to the El Dorado County District Attorney’s office that Kempel be prosecuted in California for possession of counterfeit bills.

Tahoe Daily Tribune E-mail: tribune@tahoe.com

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