ELIZABETHTON — Another man has been arrested on criminal simulation charges as both the Elizabethton Police Department and the Carter County Sheriff’s Department continue to investigate an increase in counterfeiting in the community.
John Charles Crabtree, 49, 138 Street Road, Hampton, surrendered to Elizabethton investigators Wednesday on charges of false reporting and violation of probation as well as criminal simulation.
His arrest comes a week after the sheriff’s department executed a search warrant at a Stoney Creek residence, where investigators reported finding 20 counterfeit $100 bills with the same serial number, 50 blank business checks, a color printer, high-quality paper, scissors and tape.
After the search, Carl Gregory Bishop, 26, 222 Painter Creek Road, Chuckey, was arrested on 20 counts of criminal simulation and one count of theft over $1,000, stemming from a 1985 Chevrolet pickup truck allegedly stolen from Buncombe County, N.C.
In the latest arrest, Crabtree became a suspect after Sgt. Joy Markland responded to Holiday Market, 2226 W. G St., on Monday, where he allegedly attempted to purchase a pack of cigarettes with a counterfeit $100 bill. Crabtree was still on the scene when Markland arrived.
Markland said Crabtree told her that his wife, Donna Crabtree, had just given him the bill. He said he did not have his identification with him, but his name was James Crabtree, along with a date of birth and Social Security number.
Later, when Markland attempted to complete her report on the incident, the computer found a driver’s license entry for James Crabtree, but while the date of birth was the same, the Social Security number was different. The entry also indicated James Crabtree was deceased.
By reviewing previous police reports, Markland said she was able to determine the man was John Crabtree. She determined there was an outstanding warrant charging him with violation of probation. She also located a family member who verified James Crabtree was dead but his brother John lived in Hampton and he was not married nor living with a woman named “Donna.”
Lt. Tim Horne of the Carter County Sheriff’s Department said the local counterfeiting operation probably extends into the larger cities of the Tri-Cities because there are more businesses where the bills can be passed. He said he believed the operations could extend into Southwest Virginia and North Carolina, but the extent is limited by high price of fuel. “It doesn’t pay to spend $20 in fuel to go somewhere to pass a $20 bill,” Horne said.
He said the increase in counterfeiting is an example of how criminal activities change under the influence of hard times and new opportunities. He said law enforcement agencies must be provided the support to stay ahead of the changes.