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Suspected counterfeiter arrested after hitting music stores

A man who allegedly used a stack of bogus $100 bills to snatch up thousands of dollars of musical equipment in Medford last week was arrested Wednesday in Grants Pass, where he is a suspect in at least a dozen other similar cases.

Stephan Bleu Marlatt, 32, of Grants Pass was being held Thursday in the Josephine County Jail on charges of first-degree forgery, first-degree theft, criminal possession of a forged instrument, felon in possession of a firearm and third-degree theft. His bail was set at $75,000, jail records show.

Medford police said Marlatt went to Guitar Center Friday, Sept. 12, and allegedly used fake $100 bills to purchase $2,000 worth of equipment, including speakers, an amplifier, speaker wire, a mixer, microphone, pedal and guitar strings. Store employees realized the bills were fake the next day.

Medford police wrote about the theft on their Facebook page in their daily roundup of crimes, and someone who follows the agency's posts informed them Grants Pass was looking for a similar suspect who'd made off with close to the same amount of music equipment from The Music Shop, according to Medford police Lt. Mike Budreau.

Both agencies started talking and shared what information they had, including a suspect description, the name he gave and the vehicle he drove.

"We probably would have figured it out anyway, but it was nice to have that tip right off the bat," Budreau said.

"We kind of hooked up and said, 'Hey, we may be looking at the same guy,' " Hamilton said.

Grants Pass police said Marlatt is also suspected of passing counterfeit bills at a variety of convenience stores, restaurants, gas stations and small businesses around Grants Pass.

"We're still sorting it out. We're at about 12 cases right now," said Lt. Jim Hamilton. "It's all over the board."

Police arrested Marlatt during a Wednesday traffic stop. Detectives said they recovered a majority of the merchandise stolen from Guitar Center and The Music Shop from Marlatt's home. They recovered additional pieces from his mother's home and an acquaintance's, Budreau said.

Grants Pass police said another suspect could be involved. Anyone with information on the case is asked to contact the department's detective division at 541-450-6260.

"(Investigators) are still sorting through some things and trying to track some of the other stuff down," Hamilton said.

Reach reporter Ryan Pfeil at 541-776-4468 or rpfeil@mailtribune.com. Follow him at www.twitter.com/ryanpfeil.