LAWRENCE — Police say a drug arrest became an investigation of counterfeit money yesterday after they seized $1,080 in bogus bills from a Haverhill man who they caught injecting himself with heroin as he sat in the passenger seat of a parked car.
“That is my money from my SSI check,” Michael Righini told members of the Police Department’s Street Narcotics Enforcement Unit after they discovered the phony money in his front pants pocket, Officer Shaun P. McLellan wrote in his report.
After removing the money from Righini’s pocket, the officer said he quickly suspected the bills were counterfeit because their texture didn’t feel right. He also noticed that 23 of 24 twenty dollar bills had the same serial numbers. There were also six one-hundred dollar bills — three of them with the same serial numbers and two others with identical numbers.
When Officer McLellan asked Righini why he was carrying counterfeit money, Righini answered “I don’t know. I cashed my check and that’s what they gave me,” according to the officer.
“There is so much of this stuff around I am surprised that you guys don’t get more of it,” Righini reportedly told the officer.
Righini, 30, of 162 S. Pleasant St., in the Bradford section of Haverhill, was charged with possession of heroin and possession of counterfeit notes.
James Boddy, 26, of Greenlawn Ave., Haverhill, was charged with knowingly being present where heroin is kept. He told police he was Righini’s friend and just gave him a ride to the city. He drove the car that police had under surveillance in the parking lot of the Greater Lawrence Community Health Center at 150 Park St.
Righini and Boddy were due to be arraigned in Lawrence District Court today.
Meanwhile, what began as a routine drug arrest developed into a more unusual investigation now involving federal authorities. An agent from the U.S. Secret Service was at the Lawrence Police station last night as the agency joined police in the probe.