Records show sheriff’s office hasn’t turned in unclaimed money in past 5 years to state

Updated: Oct. 25, 2019 at 9:42 PM EDT
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HANOVER COUNTY, Va. (WWBT) - No unclaimed money has ever been given to the State Literary Fund, at least in the past five years, according to the Hanover County Sheriff’s Office’s own records.

On Your Side Investigator, Diane Walker filed a Freedom of Information Act request after the sheriff confiscated more than a grand from a private citizen who found the money in a Home Depot parking lot.

The Hanover Sheriff’s Office says they give the money to the state after three years if they can’t find the rightful owner.

Documents show deputies have $2,724.42 sitting in the evidence room. That amount is derived from five different cases of lost and found money now in the sheriff’s custody.

Looking at records dating back until 2014 to see if any money recently made it to the State Literary Fund, there are no reports of unclaimed cash coming into the sheriff’s office before 2018. So, that means the nearly $3,000 in the sheriff’s possession now will stay there through at least 2021 since Hanover keeps the money three years before giving it to the state if no one claims it.

The second-largest amount confiscated by Hanover deputies is $740. Just four months ago, a man found the money near a gas pump at Wawa and turned it over to authorities. It’s in the property room now.

Hanover resident Taft Cameron found the largest amount of cash, well over a $1,000, in the parking lot at Home Depot. He reported it thinking the money would be his if no one claimed it, and he would donate it to his church. Taft said a Hanover deputy told him the county would decide how the money would be used.

“She took the money. You know getting free money, that’s a priority," Taft said.

Documents provided to NBC12 under the Freedom of Information Act also contain a unique find. A McDonald’s employee sweeping the parking lot found a Turkish Lira, equivalent to 17 cents in U.S. currency. In other recent cases, a deputy found two $20 bills on the ground in May 2018. In March 2019, another deputy found $79.25 and a $15 gift card in the parking lot at Home Depot. It’s all in the evidence room.

Hanover’s policy regarding a private citizen who finds money states: “when a private citizen refuses to relinquish custody to the sheriff’s office, the officer will get the person’s contact information, social security number, location and description of the property.”

It doesn’t say anything about the consequences if you don’t give up the money.

“I’m still not happy about it. I don’t like the idea - that if it’s correct that the county gets to make that decision. How? Why do they get to make that decision?” Taft said.

The Hanover Sheriff’s Office did not produce any documentation of money found by a private citizen ever reaching the state literary fund. The sheriff’s office did provide a copy of court orders to show how money is given to the State Literary Fund in criminal cases and says the process is similar.

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