(Delmarvanow.com) -- A Cheriton man pleaded guilty in Northampton County court to passing counterfeit money and to possessing cocaine with the intent to sell it.
During the trial this week, the court heard that Melvin Benton, 56, went into a Cape Charles Dollar General store and put money onto a Netspend prepaid debit card five times in the late afternoon of Jan. 2, this year.
According to card regulations, only $500 can be loaded onto a card at one time. Benton's repeated transactions alerted the company and the card was flagged and frozen, the court heard.
Benton called the company multiple times in an attempt to transfer the money, said Commonwealth’s Attorney Bruce Jones.
This apparently raised no alarms until the next day, when the bank reviewed the store’s deposit and found $2,500 in counterfeit bills. The store manager identified Benton as the man who came in and put the money on his debit card.
When a sheriff’s department investigator questioned Benton about the money and his transactions, he said he was approached by people in the Cape Charles Food Lion parking lot. He said they told him they had just won the lottery and were nervous about being robbed.
Benton told investigators they gave him $300 to put their money on a card, the court heard. He said he did it and never saw the people again.
A month later, the Eastern Shore drug task force found large amount of cocaine in a house where Benton was staying. He admitted the drugs were his and that he planned to sell them.
Benton was free on bond when he came to court for the trial. Defense attorney Brandon Wilder told Judge W. Revell Lewis III that his client wished to surrender his bond and go to jail to begin serving time on these charges.
The judge agreed and Benton was remanded to jail to await sentencing.