Oceanside Police cruiser. Photo courtesy Oceanside Police Department.
Oceanside Police cruiser. Photo courtesy Oceanside Police Department.

A two-day investigation and surveillance operation led Oceanside police to arrest three people in connection with several counterfeit bills used at local businesses, Lt. Leonard Cosby said Saturday.

Justin Pelligrini of Poway, Christopher Gardner of San Diego and Sherry Gardner of Tracy, Calif., were arrested Friday on suspicion of multiple charges, including possession of counterfeit bills, Cosby said. They are suspected of using counterfeit $100 bills at least six times at three separate businesses in Oceanside and Carlsbad.

On Thursday, Oceanside police Officer Erik Ellgard took a report at a business in the 2100 block of Oceanside Boulevard of a person trying to pass counterfeit bills, Cosby said. Ellgard had taken similar reports from nearby businesses on El Camino Real and Marron Road. During an investigation, Ellgard was able to obtain a description of the suspect and the suspect’s vehicle.

On Friday, Ellgard located the suspect’s vehicle at a business in the 900 block of North Coast Highway, Cosby said. The UT San Diego reported that the car was located at the Rodeway Inn at 1103 North Coast Highway and that the suspect was apparently renting a room.

Ellgard and other officers set up a surveillance team while they waited for detectives to obtain a search warrant, Cosby said. While the surveillance team was waiting for the warrant, the suspect left the hotel room, entered a vehicle and drove away.

Officers conducted a traffic stop and arrested the suspect, Cosby said.

A search of the room revealed more counterfeit bills and evidence that Cosby said is consistent with counterfeiting. During the search, officers also recovered a 12-gauge shotgun and arrested the other two suspects.

City News Service