ST. GEORGE — A Utah man is facing more than 50 felony charges following an investigation that was triggered when police officers in Mesquite, Nevada responded to a call at a local hotel. While the check-in was for property damage, they ended up stepping into a counterfeiting operation.
On Tuesday, Mesquite Police officers said they found significant property damage to the tune of more than $1,300. Police also found an active counterfeiting operation involving U.S. currency and an investigation was opened, according to a statement released by the Mesquite Police Department Friday.
Detectives were called in to process the scene while an area search for the suspect began. Shortly thereafter, one of the detectives located the suspect, who initially provided forged identification and refused to identify himself. He was later identified as 53-year-old Stacy Bennet, a resident of Perry, Utah.
Bennet was initially arrested on preliminary charges of obstructing an officer and providing forged identification, along with several fugitive warrants out of Davis County on four cases involving forgery, according to court records in Utah.
One of the warrants were issued following an investigation by the Woods Cross Police Department after a business reported some checks stolen, one of which was later cashed for $600. The suspect was allegedly captured on surveillance footage cashing the check at the bank, and authorities were able to identify the man as Bennett due to “other recent check forgeries in the area,” the officer noted in the report.
A warrant was also issued on a case from November that was filed after Bountiful Police officers responded to a report of two stolen checks being cashed: one in North Salt Lake City and a second draft was cashed at a grocery store in Bountiful.
Both checks were made out to an individual who recently reported that his wallet was stolen, and the account the checks were written on belonged to a second man who had recently reported that his mail had been stolen. Again, surveillance footage “clearly shows” Bennett cashing both checks, according to court records.
Bennett pleaded guilty to one count of forgery in each of the cases and then failed to appear for sentencing.
During the incident in Mesquite, officers searched the suspect prior to transport and found a significant number of financial and identification cards belonging to multiple individuals, none of whom were the suspect and all reportedly stolen during a series of thefts, along with a handgun that was also stolen, Mesquite Police Sgt. Wyatt Oliver told St. George News Friday evening.
A search of the room yielded more evidence, Oliver said, where detectives discovered a “small” counterfeiting operation, along with fake U.S. currency and equipment, as well as drug paraphernalia that was also recovered during the search.
Bennett was transported to the Clark County Detention Center in Las Vegas, where he faces 28 felony counts of possession of documents or personal identifying information to establish false status of identity, 18 felony counts of forgery, one count for felony possession of a firearm by a prohibited person, one felony count of possession of a stolen firearm and one felony count of obtaining & using personal identification of another to avoid prosecution.
He also faces gross misdemeanor injury to property for the damage to the hotel room, along with misdemeanor obstructing a public officer and misdemeanor possession of drug paraphernalia.
All told, Oliver said, the suspect faces 52 felony charges, in addition to the misdemeanor offenses. The suspect remains in custody at this time.
This report is based on statements from police and may not contain the full scope of findings. Persons arrested or charged are presumed innocent until found guilty in a court of law or as otherwise decided by a trier-of-fact.
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