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Cops Catch Keno-Playing Counterfeiters during Traffic Stop

Woonsocket Police Headquarters is located at 242 Clinton St. Credit: Rob Borkowski
Woonsocket Police Headquarters is located at 242 Clinton St. Credit: Rob Borkowski
Two men who paid for $140 in Keno and $40 in drinks at Aly's Pub on River Street Dec. 30 were caught later that night when officer Joseph Brazil stopped their vehicle for a rear window covered in white plastic.

Brazil pulled the vehicle over at the intersection of Park Avenue and Willow Street at about 3:30 a.m., and identified the driver as Tonope Phiensinh, 30, of 5 Batty St., Apt. 3rd, Putnam, CT. The passenger, eventually identified as Mye Leng, 83 Branch St. Apt. #9, Lowell, MA, initially gave Brazil a false name, which did not turn up in any WPD files despite his claim that he'd once been arrested in Woonsocket, according to the officer's report.

While Brazil was speaking with the men, WPD dispatch received a call from Aly's bar reporting that two men matching their description had recently paid for $140 in Keno and $40 in drinks with counterfeit $20 bills, Brazil reported.

The reporting person said that when the $140 was checked and found to be counterfeit, the men claimed they hadn't known the bills were fake, and repaid with legitimate money, taking the fake bills back. When the $40 they had paid for their drinks was also checked and found to be counterfeit, they said they would return to pay that bill before closing, but didn't, according to a police report.

Once brought up to speed on the men's alleged activities, Brazil spoke with them again. Tonope claimed they had been at Aly's; Leng said they hadn't. 

Brazil, now joined by Officer Zachary Biekiewicz, removed the men from the vehicle and searched them, finding $640 in Leng's pocket. Brazil reported the money did not feel right. Closer inspection showed none of the money had water marks and it all bore the same serial number. 

The officers arrested the men, charging them with passing counterfeit bills, a felony. At the station, Leng was later positively identified, and subsequently charged with obstructing an officer. 

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