Finders keepers ---
Four remodelers in PA were working for a contractor who had bought a home from a dead man's estate when they found the $60K hidden in a dormer. The 4 men didn't report their find and split the cash. The contractor learned of the money and reported them to police.
A judge says that because the money's owner can't be readily identified, the four can't have the intent to deprive the owner of the cash. Charges dismissed.
In what was known as the “finders, keepers” case, a judge dismissed theft and related charges that were filed against four home remodelers who two years ago came across and spent $60,000 hidden in a house in Charleroi because the rightful owner of the cash is unknown.
In December 2012, Charleroi Regional police filed charges of theft, receiving stolen property and criminal conspiracy against Richard Luketich, 30, of Fayette City; Jason F. Latchem, 45, of Monessen; Bryan Presock, 35, of 1215 McKean Ave., Charleroi; and Robert Varner, 52, of 3 Latta Hollow Road, Roscoe. They remained free on bond as the case made its way through the courts.
“We are very pleased with Judge DiSalle’s ruling,” said Jack Puskar, Presock’s attorney and one of four who challenged the validity of the charges when the judge heard argument in March.
In a 5-page opinion, the judge noted the defendants were employed as “under-the-table” laborers for Donald Smaracheck Construction.
Smaracheck purchased an unoccupied house in February 2012 from the estate of Frank Dubnansky Jr., who died Dec. 2, 2010.
Between May and mid-June 2012, the four men found one or more boxes of cash hidden in a dormer on the second floor of the house. The newest of the small bills dated to the 1980s. The four did not report the find to their employer or any authority, but instead agreed to split the money equally.