CHICAGO -- A McHenry County, Ill., man who lost his house but found $150,000 in his garden may have a shot at keeping the money.
Wayne Sabaj says he was grilling dinner at home near Johnsburg on Monday night when he went to his garden for some broccoli, and came across a different kind of green -- two bagfuls of $20 bills.
Sabaj told WGN-TV that he showed the money to his father, whom he lives with, and thought hard about what to do.
"We've got enough problems," he said. "Now we've got another problem ... what are we gonna do with all this money?"
The 49-year-old unemployed carpenter who lost his home to foreclosure in 2005decided to turn the money in to the McHenry County Sheriff's Office.
"With my luck," he said, "it would've came from a bank robbery and I'd be charged with bank robbery."
Police said they did not know of a recent large residential or commercial robbery, but were investigating where the money came from.
If investigators can prove the money is stolen, it would go back to the victim, said Dan Tarlock, professor at Chicago-Kent College of Law. If the cash can be traced to particular drug deals, police could confiscate it. And if any rightful owners can show the money was theirs, they can claim it.
On the off chance none of those situations arises, Tarlock said, Sabaj could file a claim for the money in circuit court. Under an Illinois law -- originally written to cover stray cattle -- the county would advertise the discovery, and if no owner came forward within one year, Sabaj would get the money.
"If the owner doesn't show up," Tarlock said, "you can keep it."
(Special correspondent Andrea L. Brown contributed to this story.)
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