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Deputies Arrest Couple Suspected of Trying to Pass Counterfeit Bills

Business owners alert authorities to a man attempting to pass bogus money

Bryan Steve Pelaez
Bryan Steve Pelaez

Deputies with the Santa Barbara County Sheriff’s Department have arrested two people suspected of passing counterfeit money in Solvang.

Sheriff’s deputies were dispatched about 1:15 p.m. Monday on a report that a male adult had attempted to pass counterfeit $100 bills at a business in downtown Solvang, according to department spokesman Drew Sugars.

During their search for the suspect, Sugars said, deputies were alerted that a man was trying to pass fake money at a business in the 1600 block of Copenhagen Drive. Deputies detained the suspect as he left the store.

The suspect gave a false name, but deputies identified him as 33-year-old Bryan Steve Pelaez of North Hills, an at-large parolee wanted by the California Department of Corrections, according to Sugars.

Deputies recovered numerous counterfeit $100 bills in the suspect’s wallet and evidence of counterfeiting in his vehicle. Additional counterfeit bills, plus related supplies and equipment, were found during a search of his motel room on Mission Drive, Sugars said.

County authorities contacted the Secret Service, who interviewed Pelaez and his girlfriend, 25-year-old Alexandra Lee Cleveland of Burbank, who was in the motel room when sheriff’s deputies arrived.

Alexandra Lee Cleveland
Alexandra Lee Cleveland

Sugars said deputies believe the couple also passed counterfeit bills in Lompoc and Buellton.

Pelaez was booked into the Santa Barbara County Jail on a no-bail parolee hold.

Cleveland was booked on two felony charges related to counterfeiting and felony possession of a dangerous weapon (metal knuckles), and a misdemeanor of being under the influence of a controlled substance. Bail was set at $20,000.

Noozhawk managing editor Michelle Nelson can be reached at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address). Follow Noozhawk on Twitter: @noozhawk or @NoozhawkNews.

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