A grandmother, her two adult children and her 16-year-old grandson, all from Santa Ana, were picked up Wednesday night in Laguna Beach for allegedly spreading counterfeit money around fast-food joints and mom-and-pop stores in town.
Arrests came down after a teen boy and adult male tried to make a purchase with funny money at a Mobil Mini-Mart around 10:45 p.m. When the clerk confronted the pair about that fake cash, they split. But he got the license number of the 1996 Chevy Camaro they were whisked off in, and cops quickly stopped a Camaro fitting that description on Pacific Coast Highway.
Inside the car were: Rosa Mojica, 63; her 33-year-old son and daughter, Roberto Jose Rodriguez and Tania Santoya; and Mojica's 16-year-old grandson, who police did not name because of his age, but they did disclose his mother and father were not in the vehicle when it was pulled over.
Officers claim to have found nearly $5,000 in counterfeit currency--in denominations of 5's, 10's and 20's--bulging out of Santoya's pants. All of it appeared to have been made with a high-quality printer and produced on a type of news print which makes the currency looked used, according to police.
As the four were brought to the police station for booking, department officials contacted the U.S. Secret Service, which reported there have been a rash of bills passed in Orange and Los Angeles counties lately fitting the description of bills police say they found on Santoya.
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After interviewing the suspects, Laguna Beach detectives served a search warrant on their Santa Ana residence earlier this morning and seized more fake money and items used in the production of counterfeit currency, according to police.
All four face charges of burglary, conspiracy, counterfeiting and possession of fraudulent items. The women also had felony burglary warrants out for their arrests: "no bail" for Mojica and $15,000 for Santoya. Police say the three adults have had numerous arrests and convictions for theft and burglary related crimes over the years, with Mojica's rap sheet dating back to 1976.
The adults were being transferred to Orange County Jail this afternoon, while the 16-year-old was taken to Juvenile Hall. The adults may also have a federal detention center in their futures as immigration officials placed a "hold" on them due to their undocumented status in the United States.