The arrest of a Columbus man might solve most of the two dozen-plus cases of counterfeit money reported in the city over the past two months.
That’s according to Columbus police, who arrested Michael G. Orr, 56, at his home at 201 McKinley Ave. shortly after 2 a.m. Tuesday. Orr faces preliminary charges of forgery and maintaining a common nuisance.
He also faces a charge of dealing in methamphetamine within 1,000 feet of a school after a search of his home turned up remnants of a drug lab.
Another person, a former Hope resident who had been staying at a home south of Scipio in Jennings County, is being sought for questioning in the case, according to Columbus Police Department spokesman Lt. Matt Myers.
Local law enforcement efforts in the case have been led by Columbus Police Detective Brian Plummer. But Myers said agents from the U.S. Secret Service and Jennings County Sheriff’s Department and Seymour Police Department personnel were involved with the investigation.
As one group of officers looked for evidence in Orr’s home, a second search took place at a home in the 7900 block of West County Road 600N in Jennings County. Myers said counterfeit money was seized at both locations.
The Columbus SWAT team was used during the Jennings County search after investigators learned there might be weapons in the possession of a convicted felon at that location, Myers said.
There have been multiple counterfeit bills placed into distribution in Columbus and surrounding counties. Most have been used at fast-food restaurants, gas stations and convenience stores.
“We still feel there are a lot of these bills out in circulation, so local residents need to be aware of that,” Myers said.
He added his department has received up to five calls a day concerning counterfeit bills since Dec. 8, when stories concerning the phony money were published in both The Republic and its sister paper, the Seymour Tribune.
“Within the last week, we have received tips from a few residents who saw those original stories,” Myers said. “They told our officers they knew of people who were trading smaller amounts of real money for larger amounts of counterfeit bills.”
Myers added it was those tips that led investigators to both Orr and the former Hope resident currently being sought for questioning.
He said more arrests and additional charges are possible.