Mike Bolesta, of Baltimore, MD, wanted to quietly protest a $114 installation charge, so he paid it with $2 bills, and ended up arrested, in leg irons, and handcuffed to a pole (article requires registration; use email@example.com/bugmenot — thanks to BugMeNot.com).
”Humiliating,” the 57-year old Bolesta was saying now. “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.”
Bolesta buys a car stereo from Best Buy and is told it will fit in his son’s car. It doesn’t fit, so they exchange it for another model that does. When he asks about the installation fee, they tell him “No installation charge, because of the mix-up. Our mistake, no charge.”
But the next day, Best Buy calls him at home and demands he pay the $114 installation charge — the one they had previously told him they would waive — or they’ll call the police. Bolesta agrees to pay them, but as a form of protest, decides to pay in $2 bills, of which he has plenty on hand since he specifically asks his bank for them for use in his business, Capital City Student Tours.
The trouble began when the Best Buy cashier was apparently unware that the $2 bill is legal tender. After initially refusing the bills, she accepted them, marked them as counterfeit, and called the Police — supposedly because the ink on some of the bills was smeared.
Bolesta found himself under arrest, placed in leg irons, and handcuffed to a pole for hours at the Baltimore County lockup while they waited for the U.S. Secret Service. Secret Service agent Leigh Turner later verified the bills were legitimate and also confirmed that “Sometimes ink on money can smear.”
Mr. Bolesta’s sons now shy away from $2 bills, apparently afraid they might also be considered counterfeiters and receive the same harsh treatment.
Aside from the fact that Best Buy owes Mr Bolesta a very public appology, the treatment he received at the hands of the Baltimore County police is outrageous and definitely over the top. That Baltimore County police spokesman Bill Toohey defended their actions with “It’s a sign that we’re all a little nervous in the post-9/11 world,” doesn’t help with cover the fact that they placed a man in shackles and irons — a treatment that should be reserved for terrorists and the extremely violent, not a citizen who was attempting to pay his bill using (easily confirmable) legal U.S. currency.