WATERVILLE — A Belgrade man with a long criminal record was arrested Tuesday and charged with aggravated forgery for allegedly printing and passing counterfeit money.

Jeremy McCaslin, 37, of West Road, Belgrade, told police he was printing fake bills to support his drug habit, according to police Chief Joseph Massey.

“He told Detective David Caron he was an addict and he was printing the money mostly to pass to drug dealers to pay for his drugs,” Massey said Wednesday.

McCaslin allegedly passed thousands of dollars in counterfeit money to drug dealers and businesses in the area in the past few weeks, Massey said.

He was arrested around 5:30 p.m. Tuesday when police stopped a vehicle he was in on Kennedy Memorial Drive, according to Massey.

“He had two printers in the car and there were also some sheets of money that had not been cut — about $600 in different denomination bills,” he said.

Just before that, around 5 p.m., police went to McCaslin’s Belgrade home armed with a search warrant, he said. McCaslin was leaving in a car with someone else at the time, but his wife was home when police searched it, Massey said.

“There was some paper material there that indicated he was making the money there and the reason he left with the printers was, he decided he didn’t want to continue doing it at home and was en route to a friend’s house to set up shop,” he said.

Officers followed the vehicle McCaslin was in and stopped it at the intersection of Airport Road and Kennedy Memorial Drive in Waterville, he said.

Aggravated forgery is a Class B felony, punishable by up to 10 years in prison, Massey said. McCaslin also was charged with two counts of unlawful possession of scheduled drugs, as he had prescription medications that were not his, he said.

He was taken to Kennebec County Jail in Augusta and is scheduled to appear in Kennebec County Superior Court April 23.

Massey said police notified the U.S. Secret Service because that agency has authority in cases related to counterfeit money and could charge McCaslin on a federal level as well.

He said the bills McCaslin passed were printed on paper much smoother than that of legitimate bills.

There’s a possibility more people may be charged in the case, according to Massey. Police plan to get together with other communities where bills were passed to see if they are connected with McCaslin, he said.

Police started getting calls Jan. 17 from Waterville businesses that had received counterfeit bills, according to Massey.

They included Irving, Cumberland Farms, PT Cab, Hannaford (at Elm Plaza), Family Dollar, On the Run, J&S Oil, Big Apple (Elm Street) and Little Caesar’s Pizza on Upper Main Street.

Meanwhile, Winslow police Lt. Josh Veilleux said police in that town are investigating three reports of businesses receiving counterfeit bills. The Rite-Aid reported receiving a $50 bill at its pharmacy Jan. 19; and J&S Oil gas station reported receiving a $10 bill on Monday, he said. Later that day, someone tried to pass a $10 bill at J&S, but the clerk quickly checked it and determined it was fake, Veilleux said.

Fairfield police Detective Sgt. Kingston Paul said Wednesday that on Tuesday, someone from Circle K on Main Street reported receiving a $100 counterfeit bill.

Oakland police Captain Rick Stubbert said Wednesday that police have received no reports of counterfeit money passed in that town.

Waterville police on Monday got a break in the case when a cab driver reported he picked someone up at J&S Oil on Kennedy Memorial Drive and drove him to Belgrade, where he paid his cab fare with counterfeit money, Massey said.

McCaslin apparently was able to pass the bills at businesses and leave quickly enough so that employees did not have time to realize they were counterfeit, Massey said. He added that McCaslin told police he knew drug dealers would not report him to police.

“I think it was a lot of good work by Detective Dave Caron,” Massey said. “It’s a serious charge and printing money and passing it around — you’re burning a lot of businesses. I can’t say I feel too sorry for the drug dealers.”

McCaslin has been convicted of more than two dozen crimes dating back to 1996, according to Waterville police records.

They include unlawful furnishing of drugs, sexual abuse of a minor, assault, reckless conduct, criminal trespass, aggravated assault, probation violation, furnishing liquor to a minor, violation of conditions of release and eluding an officer.

Amy Calder — 861-9247
acalder@centralmaine.com