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Police offer teen a job after he turned in bag with more than $100k in cash left near ATM

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In this day and age when we hear so much about people who do the wrong thing, it’s like a breath of fresh air to see someone do the right thing. Like New Mexico resident José Nuñez Romaniz.

At a time when coronavirus has put a huge damper on the economy, it would be like a dream come true for most people who would happen to stumble across a bag of cash containing $135,000, as Nuñez did.

But instead of carting the bag off, he turned the money over to the Albuquerque Police Department.

The young man went to a local ATM machine on May 3 to grab some cash so he could buy his grandfather some socks, according to local reports. When he arrived, he found a clear plastic bag of cash that had been left behind.

Though no one was around, Nuñez nevertheless called the Albuquerque Police Department after first dialing a 1-800 number on the ATM because, he said, it was the right thing to do.

Reports noted further that the bag of cash was mistakenly left by a Wells Fargo subcontractor sent to fill the ATM with money.

“What a great opportunity for us to see some good in the community with all the tragedies we see with young people, this really restores our faith in the community as well,” Police Chief Mike Geier said, recognizing Nuñez, 19, who is currently attending Central New Mexico Community College.

“Man, we all know that temptation – even just take a little, just one of those bundles off the top, I mean that had to be really hard,” Albuquerque Mayor Tim Keller, as he and Geier presented Romaniz with several items including a $500 check from Public Service Company of New Mexico to use towards his tuition. “I’m just absolutely impressed.”

In addition, ESPN radio gave him season tickets to the University of New Mexico Lobos football games, as well as a football signed by Chicago Bears Hall of Fame linebacker Brian Urlacher.

“Whether you can believe that it is divine, or it’s good luck or whatever, we were just talking about how – the irony that his career is so far leaning towards criminal justice, and he happens to be looking for a job, and we happen to be hiring,” said Keller, nothing that Romaniz is studying criminal justice and is considering a career in law enforcement.

The police department also gave Nuñez and his family a tour of the APD crime lab. And Geier said he’d recruit Nuñez to become a public safety officer while he’s still attending college if he is interested.

Reporters asked Romaniz what he was thinking when he found the massive bag of cash.

“In the back of my head, I was just thinking about my parents, especially my mom,” he said.

“What she would do if I came home with the money and what she would do with her chancla (sandal) to hit me,” he continued, laughing. “I did the right thing and I know my parents are proud and my family is proud as well.”

In an era when far too many people believe that ‘crime pays,’ it’s good to see an example of how doing the right thing — for yourself and for society — can pay off as well.

Jon Dougherty

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