Saturday, July 07, 2007

Russian Diplomat Passes Fake $100 Bill

PORTSMOUTH — A Russian man attempted to pass off a phony $100 bill at the New Hampshire State Liquor store shortly before 8 p.m. Thursday, according to the store manager, who said a cashier discovered the bill was bogus.

No arrest was made, according to police, but the incident was the talk of the store because Russians are known to be staying in the city ahead of Russian President Vladimir Putin's scheduled visit with President Bush in Kennebunkport, Maine, on Sunday.

Russian diplomat pulled overBush greets Griffin after landing for summit with PutinBush protestors may affect small town businessCounterfeit scams on rise Liquor store manager Mike Smith said the man, accompanied by four other Russian men, attempted to purchase two bottles of Scotch whiskey with the bum $100. The cashier used a special pen to mark the bill to test its authenticity.

"It turned a color that it's not supposed to, and when he saw that, he grabbed the bill back and left," said Smith.

Portsmouth police received a call from the liquor store that the man and his friends were on foot, headed to the nearby Holiday Inn. Police responded to the scene. A dispatch message on the police scanner said diplomatic immunity might be involved.

But Police Lt. Dante Puopolo said that diplomatic immunity was not invoked because police did not make any arrests. "We have no evidence of any kind," he said. "We don't have the $100 bill."

However, he said there are currently Russians staying in town who are entitled to diplomatic immunity. "Their version of the secret service are staying here in Portsmouth," he said. Putin will arrive at the Pease Air National Guard Base on Sunday en route to his summit with Bush.

Approximately a dozen Russian men were congregated in front of the Holiday Inn shortly after the incident Thursday night. One said he spoke no English but indicated he was there in connection with the Putin visit. The men went into the Holiday Inn shortly afterward.

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