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ST. PAUL, Minn -- With a tall stack of $100 bills in her hand, the co-owner of a Burnsville eatery allegedly confronted an Apple Valley police officer after her husband's drunken driving arrest.
"I will give you this money if you will make this go away," she promised.
She also offered him free meals.
What she received in return was a felony court summons.
Nina Kouljinski, 54, and Igor Kouljinski, 61, face a variety of charges stemming from Igor Kouljinski's April 6 arrest. Two criminal complaints issued by the Dakota County attorney's office this month accuse each of them of bribery, a felony. He also faces two charges of second-degree driving while impaired.
The two are co-owners and operators of Nina's Grill, a Russian-themed restaurant that was formerly known as the Russian Tavern. They also operate a store, the Moscow Market, in the same strip mall.
Nina Kouljinski on Thursday denied she offered an officer money and said she had no knowledge of whether her husband attempted a bribe during a traffic stop.
"He might have said that. I don't know. He was intoxicated. Drunk people say stupid things," said Nina Kouljinski, who opened the restaurant seven years ago with her husband, who is the chef.
She said she and her husband are hardworking, law-abiding people who came from a culture where bribery was commonplace, at least in their youth, and that he'd become intoxicated after an argument with her.
"We're Russian. In Russia, bribery is a (common) thing," she said. "You give them money, and they let you go. But it's been 20 years (since I left)."
According to the complaints, Apple Valley police on patrol spotted Igor Kouljinski swerving in and out of lanes on Galaxie Avenue. The officers activated their emergency lights, but he took a left on Galena Way "and made no attempt to stop."
Igor Kouljinski then allegedly pulled into a driveway two houses down from his home, parking the left side of the car in his neighbor's rock landscaping.
After getting out of the car, Igor Kouljinski refused a breath test and offered "$3,000 and then $4,000 and then $5,000 to let him go," the complaint states.
At one point, he allegedly said, "I will give you $3,000 to make the paperwork go away."
He eventually agreed to a urine test, according to charges. The test later showed a blood alcohol concentration of 0.23 percent, nearly three times the legal driving limit.
Nina Kouljinski arrived at the police station at 11:30 p.m. to pick up her husband. She sent him to the car and "then put out her hand in an attempt to give the officer a large stack of $100 bills," the complaint reads.
The officer explained that bribes are illegal, but she continued arguing with him and urging him to help her out, according to charges. She also offered him free food if he stopped by her restaurant. She expressed concern they could lose their restaurant.
In an interview, Nina Kouljinski said she had argued with her husband earlier in the evening and sent him home from the restaurant, but he went to a bar instead.
Igor Kouljinski was convicted of DWI in 2006.
Frederick Melo can be reached at 651-228-2172.
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