Funny Money Flap

April 01, 1992|By Thomas W. Waldron | Thomas W. Waldron,Staff Writer

Gary R. Scherr was having a perfectly good time at Pimlico Race Course the other day -- until he won $438 on the eighth race.

When he got home Sunday night, Mr. Scherr said, he discovered that two of the $100 bills the track paid him were counterfeit.

An occasional bettor at Pimlico, Mr. Scherr is used to losing. But not when he wins.

"I bet my good money and I get their bad money in return," Mr. Scherr, 35, said yesterday. "It's so hard to win anyway. Then to win and get counterfeit money -- it's terrible."

Mr. Scherr's dismay turned to anger yesterday when Pimlico officials declined to replace the bogus currency, at least for now.

"I told him, quote unquote, I lose my good money like a gentleman," Mr. Scherr said of his conversation with a Pimlico official. "When I win, I want my money back. I'm not too happy."

Jim Mango, Pimlico's general manager, said track officials don't know if Mr. Scherr received the counterfeit bills at the track.

Even if he did, the track has no legal obligation to repay him, Mr. Mango said.

"We can't take responsibility for every counterfeit bill in the city of Baltimore," Mr. Mango said.

Actually, a lot of funny money turned up at Pimlico Sunday. Track officials discovered 10 counterfeit $100 bills and police arrested one suspected passer.

But, Mr. Mango said, "In our opinion, [Mr. Scherr's] bills don't match the others."

The track will make a decision on the disputed $200 in the next few days. "I'm going to do what I have to do from a business standpoint to make this thing right," Mr. Mango said.

The track receives four or five calls a year from people who claim they were passed counterfeit bills, Mr. Mango said.

"Usually, I will deal with the situation by giving him dinner or the cash if I have to," Mr. Mango said.

Mr. Scherr, who owns a vending machine company, said he can spot counterfeit money because of his experience handling currency.

The man charged Sunday with possession of counterfeit money was identified as Earl Maurice Joseph, 44, of the 5500 block of Kennison Ave., who allegedly tried to place a bet with a bad $100 bill.

He told police he tried to place the bet at the request of another man he met at the track, according to the arrest record.

Elsewhere in the neighborhood, police arrested another man, Claude Clarke, 24, of Washington, and charged him with possession of three counterfeit $100 bills, according to Sgt. James G. Cappuccino.

A clerk at a Pimlico liquor store called police late Sunday night after a customer tried to pass the bills. Working from the clerk's description, police arrested Mr. Clarke in his car about 1:45 a.m. Monday.

Police said they don't know if the two incidents were connected.

The Secret Service is investigating the bogus $100 bills, which are new to Baltimore, according to Art Dalton, assistant special agent in charge of the Baltimore office.

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