Monday, February 15, 2010
Help Me Howard: Honest and Accused
This is an easy question. If you find $5,000 cash and the next day you call the police to turn it in, and instead of applause you are told by the cop he can charge you with a crime. Do you know the answer? The man who turned in the $5,000 did not, so he called Help me Howard with Patrick Fraser.
WSVN -- John Walker has been in the construction business for 30 years, but lately he spends more time at home cooking than constructing.
John Walker Jr.: "It's bad. This is the worst I have ever seen it."
Which makes what happened on a Friday afternoon even more remarkable. As John pulled out of this bank parking lot, he saw an envelope on the ground.
John Walker Jr.: "I opened it up, and I seen it was a lot of money."
$5,000 dollars to be exact, and John could use the cash, but...
John Walker Jr.: "My intention was never to keep the money because I know this money wasn't mine."
Since the money was in an envelope from another bank, John knew it didn't belong there.
So he went home, got called to go help his daughter when her car broke down, and the next morning dialed 911 to let the police know what he had found, and when the officer showed up at his house John thought he would thank him for turning in the money.
John Walker Jr.: "And when he finished counting it, he told me why didn't I call the police then, and I didn't answer him or nothing because I got kind of offended when he asked me that."
John was offended, then he was stunned.
John Walker Jr.: "He told me that I could have been charged with a misdemeanor for leaving the scene where I found the money."
It got worse. The officer called a detective who came to John's house and tape-recorded his story.
John Walker Jr.: "I said, 'I didn't steal it. I didn't rob nobody. I didn't hold no gun on nobody. You act as though I was doing something wrong.'"
The officers then left. John says they didn't tell him whether or not they were going to charge him with a crime.
John Walker Jr.: "I just wanted to know what I did wrong by trying to do right. What did I do wrong?"
Well, Howard, I want to know too. John found $5,000 on a Friday and called police on a Saturday, so what crime can he be charged with?
Howard Finkelstein: "In this case, John could not be charged with a crime because he turned the money in. However, if you find money and don't call the police, you can be prosecuted for theft. To avoid any trouble, it's best to call the cops right away and remember, if no one claims the money you get to keep it."
When I spoke to BSO, I was told that the lost money was reported as a theft by a guard at the bank. That the first officer went to John's house under that assumption, then realized it was an honest man doing the right thing. As far as they are concerned, it's over.
But I wasn't.
Juan Loria: "When it happened, I never thought I'd see it again."
We got the name of the man who lost the money from the police report. When I told Juan Loria about John, he wanted to come meet the person who returned his money to him.
Juan Loria: "Thank you so very much. I wanted to come and shake your hand. Thank you, thank you so much."
Juan had received the money in a settlement and says it fell out of his wheelchair when he went to the bank to deposit it. Although his family had been homeless and money is tight, he wanted to give John more than thanks.
Juan Loria: "I am very honored to meet you and thank you, and I just wanted to give you a little token of my appreciation."
Since Juan suffers from polio, his adorable daughter Bella bounced up to make sure John took the reward.
Juan Loria: "I wanted to say thank you for returning the money and thank you very much, and it was a pleasure to meet you."
Two nice people, one lost $5,000. An honest man found it. What are the odds they would cross paths?
Patrick Fraser: "Somebody asked me how much the reward check was from Juan to John. I don't know, I didn't ask. Figured it was none of my business. I was just happy to see two nice people get to meet each other."
Found a problem you want to lose? Contact us and bank on us to help you cash-in, cause we will honestly do our best.
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