Several Leverett House sophomores had a visitor last weekend who left Monday, leaving behind the luggage she came with. They opened it after she left and found almost $16,000 in counterfeit bills.
Tuesday morning, the students consulted Richard T. Gill, Master of Leverett House, Dean Epps, and the Harvard Police, who turned the matter over to the Cambridge Police, who called in the Secret Service.
The head of the Boston Secret Service office, Frank V. McDermott, said last night the man thought to be the owner of the luggage was being sought in the New York area.
McDermott said that the Secret Service in Washington, D.C. has already searched the man's home in Capitol Heights, Md., and uncovered printing equipment that could have been used to manufacture the one-, ten-, and twenty-dollar bills.
The young woman who deposited the money in Leverett House has already been questioned, according to McDermott, and is not under suspicion. Therefore he would not release her name.
She came to Harvard from New York with Ray Smith, a student at Michigan State University, who was coming to see Jonathan Rockwood '73. Smith met the girl in the 42nd Street bus station, where the alleged counterfeiter had left her with his suitcase and attach case, promising to return.
David T. Russell '73, one of Rockwood's roommates, said that after the young woman waited several hours, she called the police, who searched the station area unsuccessfully for the man.
Russell also said that Smith befriended the young woman when she was penniless and that she had no idea what the man's luggage contained. Smith offered to pay her bus fare home to Pennsylvania but she decided to come to Cambridge instead.
Over the weekend, Rockwood and Smith opened the suitcase and allegedly found approximately $80 in counterfeit bills and several fake birth certificates and identity cards.
On Monday, Smith gave the young woman bus fare and she left, leaving behind the luggage, which she said she didn't want. Smith and another visitor picked the lock of the attach case.
Inside was allegedly $15,000 in counterfeit money, several photographs, a youth fare card, a diary, presumably belonging to the counterfeiter, and a small brown paper package.
The package proved to contain about $1000. According to Russell, these counterfeit bills were of much higher quality than the rest, which were immediately recognizable as fake.
"There was no way you could pass most of that stuff. The plates must be really beautiful, but the ink was all blotted and the paper was really cheap. Some of it was still in sheets, uncut. But the bills in the little package might have been real," Russell said last night.
From the evidence contained in the attach case, the Secret Service probably had no trouble identifying a suspect, said Russell. The diary contained directions for counterfeiting and described an "Operation C," a counterfeiting plot, in what Russell termed an "an incredibly childish way." The diary contained no mention of politics.
McDermott said last night that he expected the alleged counterfeiter to be apprehended "very soon," and to be charged with possession and manufacture of counterfeit currency.
"I guess the reason we waited till Tuesday to report this was that nobody wants to send a guy to prison for a lousy $80. But I guess $16.000 is a lot," one of the seven roommates said last night.