BANGOR, Maine –– A Presque Isle man accused of passing fake $50 bills last year pleaded not guilty Tuesday in U.S. District Court in Bangor to two counts of passing or attempting to pass counterfeit money in the Star City.
Derek E. Mendoza, 23, is being held without bail pending the outcome of his case.
His attorney, Terence Harrigan of Bangor, declined to comment on the case.
He was indicted along with Vicky LeClerc, 28, of Presque Isle on May 15 by a federal grand jury.
She pleaded not guilty to two counts of passing counterfeit money.
Her attorney, Logan Perkins of Belfast, did not immediately return a request for comment.
LeClerc also is being held without bail pending while her case proceeds.
The pair came to the attention of Presque Isle police last July when businesses and individuals began reporting they had received counterfeit $20 bills from Mendoza, according to court documents. One person complained to investigators that Mendoza allegedly bought drugs with fake bills.
The indictment formally charging Mendoza and LeClerc alleged that the couple paid for a couch in a private sale with counterfeit $50 bills on Dec. 4. LeClerc allegedly bought clothes two days later with a fake bill. On Dec. 8, Mendoza tried to buy cigarettes with a counterfeit $50 bill, the indictment alleged.
Court documents did not explain where, how or when Mendoza obtained the counterfeit money.
If convicted, Mendoza and LeClerc each face up to 20 years in federal prison and fines of up to $250,000. They also could be ordered to pay restitution to the victims.