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Grandma Part of Alleged Counterfeiting Ring, Say Laguna Beach Police

Arrests are made after an attempt to pass off a phony bill at the Mobil mini-mart, say Laguna Beach police.

Laguna Beach police yesterday busted an alleged counterfeiting family after two men attempted to pass a fake bill at the Mobil gas station downtown about 10:45 p.m.

A clerk at the Mobil mini-mart noticed a problem with the quality of the paper currency the men had provided to make their purchase. He confronted the men, who then ran out the door. The clerk was able to get a partial license plate number, though, as well as a description of the getaway car. 

The car, a 1996 Chevy Camaro, was pulled over by police a short time later on Coast Highway near West Street. Inside the car were two adult females, one adult male, and a 16-year-old juvenile.

The eldest woman is the mother of the two adults, and the grandmother to the 16-year-old, according to the Laguna Beach Police Department.

During the investigation, officers found nearly $5,000 in counterfeit currency in denominations of 5’s, 10’s and 20’s. The money was allegedly secreted in the pants of one of the women, Tania Santoya.

According to the LBPD, the counterfeit money appears to have been made with a high quality printer and produced on a type of news print, which makes the currency looked used. The group is suspected of making the money and traveling to fast-food restaurants and mom-and-pop stores in order to have the 16-year-old go inside and pass the counterfeit money. 

The four suspects were arrested and brought to the police department for booking. The United States Secret Service also responded in order to provide assistance. They notified police that there has been a rash of these bills being passed in Orange and Los Angeles counties.

Laguna Beach detectives interviewed the four, and served a search warrant on their residence in Santa Ana earlier Thursday morning. At the home, detectives seized items used in the production of counterfeit currency along with additional fake money.

Arrested were:

  • Rosa Mojica, a 63-year-old female resident of Santa Ana
  • Tania Santoya, a 33-year-old female resident of Santa Ana
  • Roberto Jose Rodriguez, a 33-year-old male resident of Santa Ana
  • A 16-year-old male resident of Santa Ana

All four face charges of burglary, conspiracy to commit a crime, possession of fraudulent items, and counterfeiting. Both females had additional felony burglary warrants out for their arrest.

All three adult suspects have numerous arrests and convictions for theft and burglary related charges, with Mojica’s dating back to 1976. 

The three adults were transferred to Orange County Jail this afternoon, with the 16-year-old being transported to Juvenile Hall. 

Immigration officials have placed a “hold” on the adults due to their illegal status in the United States.

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