Claus Fights Counterfeiter

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Tuesday, December 28, 2010 - 10:25am

A Wisconsin bar owner turned Santa Claus thwarts a patron's attempt to pass counterfeit money.

On Christmas Eve, Greg Steffek dressed as Santa Claus and made his rounds to various family members.

Just before midnight, he stopped by Mugshotz -- the bar which he owns -- when his son Neil noticed something suspicious.

A customer walked in, ordered a shot, and paid for it with a $100 bill.

Police had warned businesses to be on the lookout for funny money as a lot of it has been passed around Milwaukee's suburbs.

"I took the $100 bill and put it over my cell phone with the light and checked the watermarks on it", said Neil Steffek, a witness.

After the man got about $95 in change, he started to leave.

Neil told his father, also known as Santa Claus.

"I told him to stop! I said we know you passed a fake $100 bill and we'd like to have that change back", said Greg Steffek.

"Next thing I know is he grabbed my dad", Neil said.

"He just threw me in the street. It was kind of scary tumbling along", recalled Greg.

Neighbors say they heard a lot of commotion so they looked out their windows to see Santa scuffling in the street.

"I held on as long as I could," said Greg.

Customers called 911 and within minutes, West Allis Police arrived.

Officers arrested a 33 year-old Milwaukee man as well as a man and woman they suspect were driving a getaway car.

"That made me feel good. Santa felt good then", joked the elder Steffek.

All jokes aside, Greg Steffek is thankful the man didn't have a gun and that it ended this way.

Plus, he admits, he'd do it all over again in order to keep Christmas spirit alive.

"I just kind of thought he should do the right thing and apparently he didn't. He's a bad boy", joked Greg.

West Allis Police are still investigating whether these suspects are involved in any other counterfeit crimes in the area.

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