Benjamin Baumann, 33, of Racine, was charged by the Racine County District Attorney’s Office with uttering a forgery and attempted misdemeanor theft. If convicted of both charges, Baumann faces up to 6 years 4 1/2 months in prison and/or fined up to $15,000.
According to the criminal complaint, Baumann was trying to put more cash on his pre-paid debit card at the Speedway gas station, 4960 Douglas Ave., on May 26 because he doesn’t have a checking account. Handing $500 worth of $20 bills to the cashier, Baumann was told most of the money was counterfeit and that the transaction was refused.
The cashier told Baumann he had to call the police, but Baumann said he couldn’t wait because he had to go to work. Leaving his first name and his cell phone number, the cashier told him it was OK to leave and Baumann left the gas station. The cashier kept one of the counterfeit bills, but Baumann had the other bills.
Days later, police were unable to contact Baumann and they released his photo to the media.
A person who saw Baumann’s photo recognized the man, called the authorities, and told them who he was. Officials with the police department were then able to contact Baumann using social media and he turned himself into the police.
“The Caledonia Police Department would like to thank the media and community for their quick action in resolving the identification and apprehension of the suspect,” wrote Caledonia Police Chief Dan Warren in an email.
Baumann told police he received the cash from a man who bought tire rims from him and that he didn’t know that cash was counterfeit. He was unable to provide the name of the man who bought the rims from him, a receipt, or provide any documentation that the transaction happened.
After learning that the cash was counterfeit, Baumann threw them away because he didn’t want to get caught with it on him, he told police.
A $1,000 cash bond and $4,000 signature bond was set at Baumann’s initial appearance on Thursday. A preliminary hearing has been set for 9 a.m. June 9.