According to the criminal complaint and Susquehanna Township Police Chief Rob Martin, police were called to a McDonald's in Harrisburg, Pa., on March 9 after Issah and two teenage friends tried to pass off the fake bills while paying at the drive-thru window. They fled, but employees identified the vehicle, and police later found them.
The incoming freshman linebacker from Central Dauphin High School in Harrisburg was identified by one of the suspects, and Facebook messages also were intercepted between Issah and another suspect that showed he "both knew the money was forged and solicited a plan to 'clean it,' " according to the complaint.
Martin said the local forgeries have been part of an ongoing investigation, and Issah is believed to have played a minor role.
"We've been duly investigating this with the U.S. Secret Service," Martin told ESPN.
Issah was released on $1,000 unsecured bail and will take part in a preliminary hearing on May 9. He is charged with two felony counts each of conspiracy and forgery, and he also faces misdemeanors for theft by deception.
According to the complaint, Issah used the counterfeit money at two separate locations and was involved with transactions at two other fast-food restaurants.
The Harrisburg Patriot-News was the first to report the story.
Penn State spokesman Jeff Nelson did not return a message seeking comment.