PORTSMOUTH, Va. (WAVY) — 10 On Your Side is learning more about the man accused of passing counterfeit bills around Portsmouth.
On Friday, WAVY.com broke the story about the phony bills while police were looking for 29-year-old Jason Eastridge, whose home they searched earlier in the day. Then, over the weekend, the suspect turned himself into Portsmouth Police.
Right now, Eastridge is out of jail on bond, but he will be back in court Friday on five felony charges of uttering a counterfeit bank note, known as counterfeit checks. Police found evidence associated with counterfeit money in his Downtown Portsmouth home.
10 On Your side learned Eastridge worked at Brutti’s restaurant before being fired two months ago, and now he’s charged with passing counterfeit money at five local businesses: Jimmy Johns, Noel’s Deli, and The Coffee Shop — all on High Street. He also allegedly passed the fake bills at Pizza Hut and London Plaza Seafood on London Boulevard.
WAVY.com took Eastridge’s mugshot to businesses that got stuck with counterfeit money.
“Yes, that is him,” said Ahmed Elgamal, who operates Noel’s Deli. “He is the one who passed the phony money, yes.”
Elgamal said Eastridge showed up and handed over a $50 bill. He had a small child with him. The two left, and shortly after a woman came in and tried to pass another $50 bill. Elgamal did not have change the second time, so he saw the woman leave, cross the street, and go to Eastridge, who was standing with the small boy. The woman got some of the money given from the first $50 bill, returned and bought ice cream.
Across the street at The Coffee Shop, employees recognized Eastridge too.
“Yes, that is him,” said Mary Reilly, who took the money and had no reason to think it was fake. Tammy Seymore added, “It’s sad … especially with the child … it’s so sad to see that type of lifestyle.”
Eastridge once worked at Brutti’s, but was fired for stealing food.
“We found him with raw meat and buns. We found it, confronted him, he admitted to taking it,” said Owner Charles Greenhood. “He said he was hungry. I told him, ‘you don’t have to steal, just ask me for a meal.’ I would have helped him, but he chose to take it without paying.”
Greenhood said Eastridge asked for his job back, but Greenhood said he couldn’t trust him. Greenhood also said Eastridge would give his wife free food while he was working.
At London Plaza Seafood, Kwang and Danny Chon remember the couple who came in at closing time on April 22.
“That is the guy … I am sure, yes” Kwang Chon said.
The Chons showed WAVY.com surveillance video of the man they believe is Jason and the woman coming into their business and ordering two catfish sandwiches. They used a $100 bill, but the Chons knew right away it was a fake.
“It wasn’t real money. I took it, checked it, and handed it back saying, ‘this is fake,'” Kwang said.
Kwang said Eastridge said he was given the money by his employer, which Kwang did not believe. You can then see on the surveillance video the man believed to be Eastridge took the money back, turned, and left the store, stopping to hold the door for another customer. The Chons then used the video get the car license plate and called police.
Last year, Eastridge was found guilty of two counts of grand larceny and given a two-year suspended sentence.
Police say there are three other counterfeit cases in Portsmouth, which could lead to more charges.