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Flowery Branch, Secret Service probe counterfeit case
2 arrested in alleged forgery operation
Justin Louis Nickell

The U.S. Secret Service and Flowery Branch Police Department are investigating and making arrests in an alleged counterfeit operation.

As of Tuesday, a Flowery Branch man and woman had been charged, and the investigation “is continuing to identify other co-conspirators,” according to a press release from Flowery Branch police Lt. David Spillers.

Authorities arrested Justin Louis Nickell, 31, of 5908 Mitchell St., in Flowery Branch on Monday, “after he was detected to have been passing various amounts and denominations of counterfeit U.S. currency in Flowery Branch and other areas,” the press release stated.

Officers took out a search warrant for his home, where they seized a computer, printer and memory storage devices.

“Additionally, samples of counterfeit $50 bills were seized, as well as bleaching fluids used in the process of manufacturing counterfeit notes,” the police department said.

During the investigation, officers also learned that Nickell had been arrested in Gwinnett County on July 11 after “he had been found to have been in possession” of a counterfeit $100 bill, Flowery Branch alleges.

Lois Renee Samples, 28, also was arrested Monday afternoon in Gwinnett at her workplace, a Ross department store, after she was discovered “to have passed a number of the counterfeit notes supplied to her by Nickell,” police further allege.

Gwinnett County police confirmed the arrest, but a public information officer didn’t have further details.

Spillers said the case started after Flowery Branch and Gwinnett authorities got complaints from businesses about counterfeit bills. Both agencies then contacted the Secret Service.

Purchases made with alleged counterfeit bills were “recorded on video and the currency was discovered as it came through the registers at the (stores),” Spillers said.

Nickell was taken to the Hall County Jail, where he has been charged with two counts of forgery in the first degree and two counts of forgery in the second degree. He is being held on $20,000 bond.

The Gwinnett County Sheriff’s Office website shows that Samples was released on bond early Tuesday.