ST. LOUIS COUNTY, Mo. (KMOX) - What began as a heartwarming story of charity and honesty is threatening to bog down into a soul-wrenching legal quagmire.
You’ll recall that while routinely checking recently-donated items on May 9th Tina Wells, manager of the MERS/Goodwill store just off Lindbergh in south St. Louis County, opened a box and made an eye-popping discovery.
A roll of cash that when counted up came to more than $14,000.
“Fourteen thousand five hundred and five,” Wells pointed out to KMOX News.
She’s been rewarded by MERS/Goodwill for her honesty and quick action in calling attention to her find, but the rest of the story is becoming less heart-warming.
The top two claimants have “lawyered up”, according to MERS/Goodwill president and CEO Lew Chartock.
“The money is definitely being interplead, meaning that it’s going to the St. Louis County Circuit Court,” Chartock told KMOX News. “At this point the lawyers who’ve gotten involved in this on behalf of their clients will have to deal with the court.”
Did it need to become this complicated?
“I…um…don’t know,” Chartock answered after thinking it over. “The last time this happened we were able to find a tiny identification, a Social Security number, and that led back to owner. But we can find no definite proof that it belonged to anybody this time.”
If the case somehow gets through the legal process without a clear determination of who actually owns the $14K, the money will be given to “a deserving charity, which will NOT be our own,” Chartock explained.
The whole situation has definitely kept MERS/Goodwill and its mission in the spotlight, he added.
“I can’t go anywhere without somebody saying to me ‘Lew, did you find my fourteen thousand dollars?’.” Chartock sighed. “Everywhere I go there’s some kind of joke being made about it.”