Teen Finds $135,000…And Returns It!

“Jose Nuñez Romaniz, a criminal justice student, turned over the money to officials and was invited to apply for an entry-level job at the Albuquerque Police Department.”M. Padilla, New York Times

Jose Nuñez second from left, with his parents, Carmen and Jose Nuñez and Mike Geier, the Albuquerque police chief. Credit…Julie Jensen:Albuquerque Police Department

Excerpt: Teenager, an Aspiring Detective, Returns $135,000 He Found –Mariel Padilla, NYT

“Jose Nuñez Romaniz was headed to the bank to deposit money so he could buy socks online for his grandfather when he came upon a large clear plastic bag filled with cash next to an A.T.M. in Albuquerque.

‘When I first saw it, I kind of stared at it for a few seconds, not knowing what to do,’ Mr. Nuñez said of his discovery on May 3. ‘I was very shocked. I’ve never seen so much money.’

Mr. Nuñez, 19, a criminal justice student at Central New Mexico Community College, said that after the initial shock had worn off, he took a picture of the bag.

He said he noticed a tag on the outside of the bag that said it contained $60,000 in $20 bills. The police later counted an additional $75,000 in $50 bills.

‘It never passed through my mind to keep any of it,’ Mr. Nuñez said on Saturday…After calling the police, he put the bag in his car and moved it so someone else could use the machine. He then called his mother to tell her he was going to be a little late coming home.

Two police officers arrived within minutes, took the bag and took Mr. Nuñez’s statement and information. He said his parents expressed amazement and disbelief when he recounted what happened, even after he showed them the picture… Officer Simon Drobik, an Albuquerque Police Department spokesman, said on Saturday ‘I think this is the biggest amount of money found in Albuquerque and returned.’

On Tuesday morning, Mr. Nuñez was in Phoenix buying materials for his parents’ mattress business when Officer Drobik called. ‘He asked me how was it to be a hero in the town, and at first I didn’t know what he was referring to,’ Mr. Nuñez said. ‘But then he started telling me about a ceremony to honor me. He wanted me to take my family there and meet the mayor and the chief of police.’

About 50 people attended the ceremony, which was held at the Albuquerque Police Academy on Thursday.

At the ceremony, Mayor Tim Keller commended Mr. Nuñez’s actions: ‘Man, we all know that temptation. Even just to take a little, just one of those bundles off the top. I mean that had to be really hard.’

Mr. Nuñez said he had received a plaque, gift cards, sports gear and even a $500 scholarship from an electric company…When Officer Drobik learned that Mr. Nuñez was studying criminal justice and wanted to pursue a career in law enforcement, he invited him to apply for a position at the department. Mr. Nuñez said he had gone to the station on Friday and filled out an application to be a public service aide, an entry-level position for those who want to become law enforcement officers but do not yet meet the requirements. ‘I’ve wanted to be a crime scene investigator or a detective for the police since I was a kid.’ Mr. Nuñez said…“The family was very humble,” Officer Drobik said. “It was amazing to watch them. There’s a greater good there. They weren’t blown away by Jose’s actions, but everyone else was.”

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Category: Culture, Social