A New York City man was arrested recently after attempting to pass a counterfeit bill at a Cooperstown business.
David Perez, 62, of the Bronx, was charged with second-degree criminal possession of a forged instrument, a felony, and petit larceny, a misdemeanor. He was issued an appearance ticket.
After making a small purchase at Schneider’s Bakery at around 3 p.m. Tuesday, Aug. 17, Perez asked the clerk for change for a counterfeit $100 bill, according to Cooperstown Police Chief Frank Cavalieri.
“The girl behind the counter was young and probably didn’t know any better, so she gave him the change,” Cavalieri said. “She didn’t notice it was fake, but when the owner was counting the drawer later, he said he could tell by the way it felt that it wasn’t real.”
The incident was reported to Cooperstown police at around 5 p.m., Cavalieri said, and at around 6:30 p.m., Perez and his wife were stopped and questioned in their vehicle when the bakery owners reported seeing them on Main Street.
Perez denied any knowledge that the bill was counterfeit, claiming he found it on the ground in New York City, Cavalieri said.
“He tried to deny the incident and change the story but luckily we had a recording with security footage on our phone with us incriminating him,” the bakery owners posted from the business Facebook page Monday, Aug. 23.
Perez’s wife was not charged in the incident.
“We found that she was not acting in concert with him,” Cavalieri said. “She had no knowledge of what he was doing.”
Because no other counterfeit bills were found in his possession, Cavalieri said it did not appear that Perez intended to attempt the counterfeit scheme at any other local businesses, but he encouraged local business owners to stay vigilant against fraud and theft.
“It’s prudent, as a business owner, to always be on the lookout for it,” he said. “Up here, it doesn’t really happen all that often, but you’ve got to be careful anyway.”
Tara Burke, executive director of the Cooperstown Chamber of Commerce, said she wasn’t aware of any other recent efforts to defraud local businesses during the busy summer months.
“I think everyone who is aware of this story has applauded the owners and staff of Schneider’s for their vigilance,” she said. “They were looking out for the well-being of their fellow local businesses in making sure that these people were brought to justice and unable to take advantage of anyone else. It’s a testament to how truly community-minded they are.”
“My husband wakes up at 2 a.m. every day,” the bakery owner wrote in the Facebook post. “He works his butt off every day, and to have some thief come into our home and business and take advantage of our employees and steal from us, especially during our most difficult year we’ve had yet? Catching this criminal was complete satisfaction.”