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Man finds $140,000 on the street

April 9, 2008 6:39:49 PM PDT
Eli Estrada said it's been tough lately, with rising gas prices and credit card debt. He's trying to keep his artificial grass and landscaping business afloat, plus he's paying for his upcoming wedding.When Estrada found $140,000 on a street in Cerritos last month, he could have screamed, "Jackpot!"

Click in the Eyewitness News Story Window above to watch Leo Stallworth's report from the scene.

"It weighed 35 pounds in $20s. It's just amazing to see that in the middle of the street. I think I was the first person who pulled up to that," Estrada said.

He found the large amount of money stuffed in a bank deposit bag on Gridley Road near South Street, and instead of keeping it for himself, Estrada decided to turn it in to authorities.

"I feel like I wasn't losing anything because it wasn't mine to begin with. Everybody could use that much money. $140,000 cash, it's amazing to think, okay, you could pay off some debt," Estrada said.

Authorities say keeping the money would have been considered grand theft, a felony.

"Surely he would have been in a lot of trouble for not turning it in, but I think the motivation for him doing it was just to do the right thing," said Sgt. Dina Zapalski of the Long Beach Police Department.

Police said the money ended up on the street when a guard at a Brinks armored truck forgot he left the sack of cash on the bumper of his truck. When he drove off, the money fell on the street.

"I wouldn't want to lose that much money. I would turn it in," said Charlene Moreno, a local resident.

"If I kept it, I would be afraid somebody would run over me. That would be my luck," said local resident Lenora Kennedy.

Brinks gave Estrada $2,000 for his honesty. Police said his honesty shows, there's one thing more important than money -- peace of mind.

 

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