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Manmohan dinner was not the first event Salahis crashed

world Updated: Jan 23, 2010 10:36 IST

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Long before the Salahis gatecrashed a White House dinner for Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, the Secret Service was warned about the celebrity hounding couple after they attempted to crash another event, a media report said.

According to Washington Life Magazine, Greg Woodell, the Salahis' former limousine driver, and Rachel Harshman, once a close friend of Michaele Salahi, have alleged that the infamous couple crashed a presidential inauguration event at the Lincoln Memorial one year ago.

They claim the couple placed a fake pass in the window of their white Lincoln limousine to get into a restricted area of the National Mall, the magazine said. The limo pass, which has been taken as evidence by the Secret Service, shows a presidential seal and the words: "Official Presidential Inaugural 2009 Vehihcle (sic)," with the word "vehicle" misspelled.

Woodell claims that Tareq Salahi produced the pass on his home computer, photo-shopping the presidential seal onto the pass, the magazine said. Woodell, 39, became the Salahis' driver in January 2009, but quit the job in May. He said that he warned the government about the couple.

"I went to the Secret Service on four separate occasions and warned them about Tareq and Michaele," Woodell was quoted as saying. "We told them that they wanted to get close to the Obamas and that this would end up real messy unless they did something."

Meanwhile, Tareq Salahi told Loudoun Times-Mirror last week that he and Michaele are innocent of any White House gate-crashing, and have the documentation to prove it, but would not divulge their evidence at a House hearing. "The answer's easy. Eleanor Holmes Norton," he was quoted as saying.

Norton, a DC delegate and committee member, issued a press release Nov 30 stating that she believes the Salahis are guilty, "practiced con artists who bamboozled the Secret Service." As a result, Tareq said he has been advised by his attorneys that they would not get a fair hearing.

"We were shocked the day after the dinner, when we heard we were on CNN," Tareq told the Times-Mirror. "We drove over to our friend's house and watched it on television, totally speechless. Crashers? Huh? All we wanted to do was turn around and drive back to the White House and ask them what was going on."

Tareq alleged the "real story" has not been revealed - why they were labelled "gate crashers" by The Washington Post, which broke the story. He said he plans to sue the Post for libel.

"Dig deeper," he was quoted as saying. "If you look at our bankruptcy filing, you'll see that we owed The Washington Post $24,000 for advertising. Because of the bad economy, we could not pay it. The Post retaliated against us by putting that story out there."