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Felon accused of counterfeiting scheme, Hastings police say

Steven Kenneth Kuhns, 49, of Hastings.

HASTINGS, Minn. — Hastings police say they have shut down an elaborate counterfeit money-making operation that a convicted felon had been running out of a stolen motor home, and that his work could be being passed around the metro area.

Police discovered the operation last week after arresting Steven Kenneth Kuhns, 49, of Hastings on two outstanding felony warrants out of Dakota and Goodhue counties.

The RV was parked in a wooded area on property owned by a man Kuhns had befriended, Hastings Police Chief Bryan Schafer said Tuesday, Sept. 19. Electrical cords ran to the motor home.

"We have reason to believe that this guy has been traveling in the area for almost a year," Schafer said. "The fact that this was not caught until now is a little surprising. Nonetheless, it's a motor home and there's a lot you can do in those."

Kuhns has been charged with four felonies: manufacturing counterfeit currency, reproducing currency, possessing counterfeit currency over $1,000 and receiving stolen property. He also faces a misdemeanor charge of obstructing legal process.

According to the criminal complaint filed Thursday, Sept. 14, in Dakota County District Court in Hastings:

A search of the motor home by the Secret Service and Hastings police turned up $7,400 in counterfeit bills, hundreds of blank checks, 61 Walmart gift cards of unknown value, four printers/scanners/copiers, four computers, eight cellphones, gun parts and a glass bubble pipe.

Hastings police learned of Kuhns' whereabouts Sept. 11 after Red Wing police arrested a person who passed a counterfeit bill at a business and who had been driving a car that Kuhns also drives. In an interview, the person told investigators where Kuhns was staying in Hastings and that the fake bill came from him.

That same day, police located the motor home in the 800 block of Eighth Street East and heard Kuhns inside moving around and coughing. It took officers two hours to persuade Kuhns to come out of the motor home, and officers took him into custody on the outstanding warrants.

Officers found a counterfeit $10 bill in his pocket.

The motor home, stolen in 2016 in Story City, Iowa, was valued at $65,000 to $89,000.

Schafer said the owner of the property where the motor home was parked was unaware of Kuhns' alleged operation. Kuhns apparently was a mechanic by trade and the landowner "was trying to help him get on his feet," Schafer said.

In March, Kuhns was sentenced to three years of probation after pleading guilty in Dakota County District Court to offering a forged check over $2,500. A warrant was issued for his arrest July 24 after he allegedly violated terms of his probation.

On Aug. 4, Goodhue County issued an arrest warrant for Kuhns after he failed to appear at a court hearing on April charges that include possessing a machine gun or short-barreled shotgun, fleeing police, reckless driving and driving after cancellation.

Kuhns faces up to 20 years in prison if convicted on the latest charges. He remained at the Dakota County jail Tuesday in lieu of $40,000 bail.

Schafer said that at least two counterfeit bills were passed at businesses in Hastings and that several fake $50 bills could be elsewhere.

"We've put out an alert to other agencies in the metro to be watching," he said.

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