Two nabbed in county on counterfeiting charges

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, September 4, 2001

Warren County Investigator Jay McKenzie, far right, bags two pieces of evidence pulled from the van of two men being held in the Warren County Jail Friday for check fraud. Crime Scene Technician Gevon Smith, far left, looks on as Investigator Johnny Beauchamp searches the vehicle in the garage of the Warren County Sheriff’s Department.(The Vicksburg Post/MELANIE DUNCAN

[9/01/01] Local authorities think they’ve nabbed two professional counterfeiters, but they weren’t sure about the pair’s identity on Friday.

Jail records show that William Killabrew, 51, 2348 Overbrook Drive, Jackson, and William Brown, 21, 2318 Overbrook Drive, also of Jackson, were arrested on counterfeiting charges late Thursday at the Texaco station off Interstate 20 in Bovina.

Detective Johnny Beauchamp of the Warren County Sheriff’s Department made the arrest, which capped a day that saw local authorities receive 13 reports of counterfeit American Express traveler’s checks 12 to the Vicksburg Police Department and one to the Sheriff’s Department.

Brown and Killabrew were arrested on the county charge, which involved a false traveler’s check given to a gas station near East Clay Street and Highway 27 South, Warren County Sheriff Martin Pace said.

Pace said the fake checks had been produced with exceptional skill.

“These guys were absolutely professionals,” Pace said of the counterfeiters. “They weren’t just throwing money orders together in a back room somewhere. I think a lay person would have a really hard time telling the difference between the counterfeit checks and the real thing.”

Pace said he didn’t know if Brown and Killabrew were also behind the Police Department’s 12 reports, which VPD spokesman Jamee Carter said came from Wal-Mart SuperCenter, 2150 Iowa Blvd., Ryan’s Family Steakhouse, 3419 Pemberton Square Blvd., Chevron No. 38, 725 U.S. 61 South, and two local McDonald’s outlets, one on North Frontage Road and one on Iowa Boulevard.

“We don’t even know who we’re really dealing with here, whether they’ve given us their real names and addresses or not,” Pace said, adding that Brown and Killabrew had false state identification cards from California and North Carolina. “They could have a more widespread operation than we know right now.”

Brown and Killabrew were in Warren County Jail without bond Friday afternoon, and neither man had made his initial court appearance. Pace said the U.S. Secret Service, which handles federal counterfeiting cases, has been contacted about the case.

“But we can’t formally charge them with anything until we’re sure they’ve given us their real names,” Pace said.

Carter said Friday afternoon that her office had not brought charges against Brown and Killabrew.

Police officers joined Sheriff’s Department detectives Friday morning to search the Oldsmobile Silhouette van that the pair was driving at the time of their arrest. They found a ledger book and several pieces of clothing that authorities on the scene said might link Brown and Killabrew to the other counterfeiting reports.

In another counterfeiting incident, police were looking for a man who attempted to make a purchase with a counterfeit $20 bill Friday afternoon at Amoco’s 3613 Wisconsin Avenue station.

Carter, who has worked for the VPD since 1993, said she had never seen so many cases of counterfeiting in two days.

Pace said it’s a sign that criminals are getting better at using computers to produce false documents.

“As they gain more technical expertise, we’re seeing a lot more counterfeiting,” he said.