When you think of felony forgery charges your thoughts might turn to notorious gangster Al Capone or Bonnie and Clyde shooting it out with the Texas Rangers.
Not for some local school police. For one day, public enemy number one when it came to forgery was 13-year-old eighth grader Danesiah Neal at Fort Bend Independent School District’s Christa McAuliffe Middle School.
Now 14, Daneisha was hoping to eat that day’s lunch of chicken tenders with her classmates using a $2 bill given to her by her grandmother when she was stopped by the long arm of the law.
“I went to the lunch line and they said my $2 bill was fake,” Danesiah told Ted Oberg Investigates. “They gave it to the police. Then they sent me to the police office. A police officer said I could be in big trouble.”
Not just big trouble. Third-degree felony trouble.
And that’s just one of eight counterfeiting charges investigated against high- and middle-school students at Fort Bend ISD since the 2013-2014 school year.
School officials called Daneisha’s grandmother Sharon Kay Joseph.
“She’s never in trouble, so I was nervous going in there,” she recalled to abc13.
The officials asked, “‘Did you give Danesiah a $2 bill for lunch?’ He told me it was fake,” she said.
Then the Fort Bend ISD police investigated the $2 bill with the vigor of an episode of Dragnet, even though at that school 82-percent of kids are poor enough to get free or reduced price lunch.
The alleged theft of $2 worth of chicken tenders led a campus officer — average salary $45,000 a year — to the convenience store that gave grandma the $2 bill.
Next stop — and these are just the facts — the cop went to a bank to examine the bill.
Finally, the mystery was solved: The $2 bill wasn’t a fake at all. It was real.
The bill so old, dating back to 1953, the school’s counterfeit pen didn’t work on it.
“He brought me my two dollar bill back,” Joseph said. He didn’t apologize. He should have and the school should have because they pulled Danesiah out of lunch and she didn’t eat lunch that day because they took her money.”
Joseph said something needs to change so kids don’t have felonies looming over their heads for minor crimes — or actions that aren’t even crimes at all.
“It was very outrageous for them to do it,” she said. “There was no need for police involvement. They’re charging kids like they’re adults now.”