Couple accused of using fake cash at local BBQ restaurant

HOUSTON – The owner of a BBQ restaurant posted a public warning to area businesses after he said a couple passed a counterfeit bill at his restaurant.

Just after the lunch rush Monday, a man and a woman came in to Roegels Barbecue Co.

Nick Maldanado was behind the counter and said the couple seemed jittery.

“They came in looking suspicious already,” he said.

He said the couple ordered two rib plates and the man tried to pay with a large bill.

“He tried to hand me a $100. It was shift change and I didn’t have change. So he said. 'I got a $50,'" Maldanado said. “Once he handed me that, it felt funny. It was off to me.”

Maldanado asked his boss, owner Russell Roegel, to take a look at the bill. Roegel held it up to the light and it seemed OK.

But the man and woman still acted jittery, and didn’t stay to finish their meal. Russell had second thoughts about the $50 bill.

“As soon as they leave, I opened the drawer and we got to looking at it and we put them side by side and like then, yeah, this is a fake. But by then, they’re already gone,” Roegel said.

The paper seemed flimsy and worn and the printing was slightly blurred like a bad photocopy.

Russell absolutely confirmed his suspicions by comparing the bill they gave him to a real bill. He laid them side by side and passed a blue light across both bills. The light illuminated a band near the center of the government issued currency that reads “USA 50.” On the fake bill, there was nothing at all.

“They gave us a worthless piece of paper. We gave them two plates of quality barbeque and $12 back. And that's a win for them,” Roegel said.

Roegel is fighting back.

He pulled photos of the man and woman from his security camera and put them on a Facebook page to warn other businesses and perhaps even identify and catch the couple that conned him.