A man trying to pay a fee using $2 bills was arrested, handcuffed and taken to jail after clerks 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 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.”
Bolesta says the cashier marked each bill with a pen. Other store employees began to gather, a few of them asking, “Are these real?”
“Of course they are,” Bolesta said. “They’re legal tender.”
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 order.
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 out.’
“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 murderer.”
Secret Service agent Leigh Turner eventually arrived and declared the bills legitimate, adding, according to the police report, “Sometimes ink on money can smear.”