- A man trying to pay a fee using $2 bills was arrested,
handcuffed and taken to jail afterclerks at a Best Buy store questioned
the currency's legitimacy and called police.
- According to an account in the Baltimore Sun, 57-year-old
Mike Bolesta was shocked to find himself taken to the Baltimore County
lockup in Cockeysville, Md., where he was handcuffed to a pole for three
hours while the U.S. Secret Service was called to weigh in on the case.
- Bolesta told the Sun: "I am 6 feet 5 inches tall,
and I felt like 8 inches high. To be handcuffed, to have all those people
looking on, to be cuffed to a pole - and to know you haven't done anything
wrong. And me, with a brother, Joe, who spent 33 years on the city police
force. It was humiliating."
- After Best Buy personnel reportedly told Bolesta he would
not be charged for the installation of a stereo in his son's car, he received
a call from the store saying it was in fact charging him the fee. As a
means of protest, Bolesta decided to pay the $114 bill using 57 crisp,
new $2 bills.
- As the owner of Capital City Student Tours, the Baltimore
resident has a hearty supply of the uncommon currency. He often gives the
bills to students who take his tours for meal money.
- "The kids don't see that many $2 bills, so they
think this is the greatest thing in the world," Bolesta says. "They
don't want to spend 'em. They want to save 'em. I've been doing this since
I started the company. So I'm thinking, 'I'll stage my little comic protest.
I'll pay the $114 with $2 bills.'"
- Bolesta explained what happened when he presented the
bills to the cashier at Best Buy Feb. 20.
- "She looked at the $2 bills and told me, 'I don't
have to take these if I don't want to.' I said, 'If you don't, I'm leaving.
I've tried to pay my bill twice. You don't want these bills, you can sue
me.' So she took the money - like she's doing me a favor."
- Belesta says the cashier marked each bill with a pen.
Other store employees began to gather, a few of them asking, "Are
- "Of course they are," Bolesta said. "They're
- According to the Sun report, the police arrest report
noted one employee noticed some smearing of ink on the bills. That's when
the cops were called. One officer reportedly noticed the bills ran in sequential
- Said Bolesta: "I told them, 'I'm a tour operator.
I've got thousands of these bills. I get them from my bank. You got a problem,
call the bank.' I'm sitting there in a chair. The store's full of people
watching this. All of a sudden, he's standing me up and handcuffing me
behind my back, telling me, 'We have to do this until we get it straightened
- "Meanwhile, everybody's looking at me. I've lived
here 18 years. I'm hoping my kids don't walk in and see this. And I'm saying,
'I can't believe you're doing this. I'm paying with legal American money.'"
- Bolesta was taken to the lockup, where he sat handcuffed
to a pole and in leg irons while the Secret Service was called.
- "At this point," he says, "I'm a mass
- Secret Service agent Leigh Turner eventually arrived
and declared the bills legitimate, adding, according to the police report,
"Sometimes ink on money can smear."
- Commenting on the incident, Baltimore County police spokesman
Bill Toohey told the Sun: "It's a sign that we're all a little nervous
in the post-9/11 world."