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Counterfeit operation busted in Kimball

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KIMBALL -- The Chamberlain Police Department arrested three men last week for passing counterfeit bills and for numerous drug charges.

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Zane Goodbeau, 59, of Kimball, John Laubach, 42, of Kimball, and Chaz Stewart, 20, of Yorba Linda, Calif., were allegedly printing counterfeit bills in a camper owned by Laubach in the Regency Hotel and Suites parking lot in Kimball, said Chamberlain Police Chief Joe Hutmacher.

"In 24 years of law enforcement, I've never had a case like this," Hutmacher said. "Neither had any of the agents who assisted."

The three men are each charged with forgery for allegedly printing the money -- a felony charge that carries a maximum of five years in prison, a $10,000 fine or both.

On top of that, each man is charged with possession of a controlled substance and distribution of a controlled substance, methamphetamine. Each of those charges carries a maximum penalty of 10 years in prison, a $20,000 fine or both.

They are also charged with possession with intent to distribute marijuana, a felony with a maximum sentence of five years in prison, a $10,000 fine or both.

The three men also each face two misdemeanor charges for possession of marijuana and possession or use of drug paraphernalia.

Hutmacher's department first received a tip that counterfeit bills were being passed on Aug. 26 in the Chamberlain area. The next day, the department heard banks caught counterfeit $10, $20, $50 and $100 bills being used at area businesses.

After following up on several leads, Hutmacher said his department -- with assistance from the Kimball Police Department, Brule County Sheriff's Department, the South Dakota Division of Criminal Investigation and the U.S. Secret Service -- arrested Goodbeau, Laubach and Stewart.

Law enforcement also used surveillance footage of the men passing the bills to help catch them, Hutmacher said.

"The banks caught most of the bills," he said. "One business did catch one of the bills, but they were pretty good copies. It was really hard to tell."

He's not sure how much fake money was passed and believes there are still more bills in circulation.

The men are being held in the Brule County Jail and have a court date set for later this month.

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