July 17--The woman suspected of passing a fake $100 bill at a July 10 bake sale in front of Oliver's Market in Cotati was arrested Sunday evening, Cotati police officials said.
Michelle Kruse, who also went by the alias Dana Hamilton, was taken into custody at about 7 p.m. at her Rohnert Park home. Following widespread media attention, numerous tips from the public helped identify and ultimately locate Kruse, police said.
Kruse, 41, is accused of using a counterfeit $100 bill at a bake sale benefiting the Rancho Cotate High School music program. Sgt. Craig Guydan said Kruse had been shopping at Oliver's and possibly intended to use the $100 there. He said she may have gotten cold feet and left the store.
Moments later, she walked up to the bake sale and purchased three Rice Krispies treats, a brownie and possibly a slice of cake at the bake sale. A Rancho Cotate student tried to stop her but she sped off, nearly running into other cars in the parking lot.
The tips started coming after images of Kruse and the car she drove off in were published online and in the newspaper.
On Sunday evening, during a routine patrol, Cotati Police Officer Baudelia Gallo spotted a BMW headed northbound on Old Redwood Highway. Gallo ran a check on the car's license plate and discovered that the registration stickers were phony.
The officer stopped the car and learned that the occupants were on "searchable probation," which permitted a routine probation search of the BMW. The officer then discovered ID cards in the name of Kruse's alias, Dana Hamilton, police said.
Sgt. Guydan said the occupants of the BMW provided information about where to find Kruse.
"It's a small world in Sonoma County," Kruse said. "The people inside the vehicle wanted to provide information about where Michelle was right now."
Cotati police sought the assistance of Rohnert Park police officials before heading out to Kruse's residence, officials said. She was found in the garage of a residence on the 100 block of Frederick Drive.
Police also found 2.9 grams of heroin, 3.3 grams of methamphetamine, a digital scale, fresh packaging bags and numerous methamphetamine pipes. The amount of drugs found was enough to charge Kruse with suspicion of possession of heroin and methamphetamine for sale, both felonies, police said.
She was also charged with suspicion of possessing and using fake currency.
Investigators are still trying to figure who made the $100 bill and where it was printed. Guydan thanked the public for their help in solving the crime.
"The public response was phenomenal and for the most part all the information that we received was accurate as well," he said, adding that tips led to identifying the license plate number on the car.
Guydan said her arrest was delayed in part because she sold the car shortly after news of the bake sale incident was spread by the media.
"One way or another, we would have found her eventually," he said.
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