ST. GEORGE — Varying stories and suspicious $20 bills resulted in the arrest of a Washington City man last week. He now faces several forgery charges.

Counterfeit $20 bills with the word “copy” imprinted just below the serial number were recovered by police in Washington City, Utah, Dec. 5, 2023 | Photo courtesy of the Washington City Police Department, St. George News

On the evening of Dec. 5, officers responded to a home improvement store on West Telegraph in Washington City on a report of a man attempting to use counterfeit money to pay for his purchases.

Upon arrival, officers spoke to one of the employees who said a man had attempted to pay for several items using four $20 bills that appeared to be fake, according to charging documents filed in support of the arrest.

Though the suspect had fled from the store, the clerk was able to provide officers with a photo and a clothing description of the suspect, as well as a photo of the currency. The clerk no longer had possession of the bills because the man grabbed the money off the counter before fleeing the store after hearing the police had been called, the report states. The clerk also provided a receipt for the attempted transaction. 

Officers recognized the suspect in the photo as 28-year-old Tielar Mikel Hibben, of Washington City. 

Authorities say the bills in the photo appeared to be discolored and had the word “copy” printed below the serial number.

Officers then headed to a residence on North 100 West where Hibben reportedly was staying. They found him on the roof of the residence and asked him to come down to speak with him, to which Hibben reportedly complied. 

While speaking to officers, Hibben said he fled from the store to “go and confront the individual who had provided him with the counterfeit bills,” the officer noted in the report. 

When officers inquired further, Hibben gave police the name of an individual who he said had given him five $20 bills as payment for some yard work, the report states. Police say when they reached out to that individual, the man said he had never done any business with Hibben and didn’t know him.

When confronted about the conflicting account, Hibben told the officer he had been dishonest and “was going to start being honest,” the report states. 

He said he had received the counterfeit bills from a man named “Rabbit,” in Mesquite, Nevada, and after being confronted by Hibben, Rabbit pulled a gun and threatened him. From there, Hibben took the bills to the home improvement store to buy a leaf blower, a transaction that was canceled when the employee noticed the bills were fake.

Stock image of Purgatory Correctional Facility in Washington County, Utah | Photo by Cody Blowers, St. George News

When officers mentioned that Hibben had attempted to put the counterfeit bills into circulation, Hibben’s “story changed again,” police say, and Hibben claimed he had no idea the currency was fake until he tried to pass the counterfeit bills at the store. 

Hibben was arrested due to his inconsistent stories that kept changing, police say. They collected the counterfeit bills and transported Hibben to Purgatory Correctional Facility. He was booked into jail on $10,000 bail. 

The case was filed the following day and Hibben was formally charged with four third-degree felony counts of forgery. On Thursday, he made an initial appearance in 5th District Court in St. George, where the case was scheduled for a bail reduction hearing scheduled for Dec. 21. Hibben remains in custody in Washington County at the writing of this report.   

This report is based on statements from court records, police or other responders and may not contain the full scope of findings. Persons arrested or charged are presumed innocent until found guilty in a court of law or as otherwise decided by a trier-of-fact.

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