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Whatever happened to the cooler full of money found at the Wal-Mart parking lot?

The $90,000 in cash found on Saturday, March 16, 2002, at Wilmington’s Wal-Mart, 5226 Sigmon Road, was never claimed by its “owner” according to Drug Enforcement Agent Michael Franklin who replaced the original DEA agent, Jon Wilson, on the scene seven years ago.

The packaging of the money, mostly hundreds, along with several pieces of electronic equipment, was turned over to the City-County Vice and Narcotics Unit and eventually was taken by the DEA after drug-sniffing dogs discovered traces of illegal narcotics on the money.

Wal-Mart ran numerous ads in local and national papers, including USA Today, asking individuals to come forward to claim the money, but there were no takers. Eventually becoming a cold case, the Wal-Mart security guard who found the cooler of cash filed a claim to collect the $90,000, but after wrangling with lawyers and red tape it was determined that finders doesn’t necessarily mean keepers. (Anytime drugs are involved in a situation such as this, it will often go back to the government or local agency, and not the finder.)

Ultimately, it was forfeited to the government through the asset forfeiture fund and determined that the New Hanover Sheriff’s Department and the Wilmington Police Department, which had also filed a claim for the funds, would share the total.

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7 Responses to “ Whatever happened to the cooler full of money found at the Wal-Mart parking lot?”

  1. On August 23, 2009 at 9:23 am Sherry wrote:

    In the past week I have read and have seen on the news where 90% of our currency has drug residue. I think the finder should have been the keeper. The keeper just wanted the money to grow its department!

  2. On August 23, 2009 at 2:12 pm Malcolm Campbell wrote:

    All money in circulation is tainted with traces of illegal drugs! This is just another case of the government screwing another citizen. Give the money back to the security guard that found it. I will never turn any thing that I find over to the crooks in government!

  3. On August 23, 2009 at 3:49 pm Lee wrote:

    From what I understand you can’t find any money bigger than 20 dollar bills what don’t have cocaine residue on them which is a built in perfect excuse for law types to keep ANY money that gets turned in like that to me.

    Then again I wouldn’t expect the cops in this town to give it back anyway. You can be very sure they would come up with some reason to keep it.

    I used to keep a 100 bill in my wallet for emergencies, not anymore though since I found that out.

  4. On August 23, 2009 at 4:14 pm Ken Foster wrote:

    In a recent study, trace amounts of cocaine were found on an average of approximately 90 percent of American paper currency.
    Applying the logic used in this case, the government should confiscate 90 percent of everyone’s cash.
    This was simply a case of grand larceny by public officials. Yes, just another demonstration that those we elect, and their appointees, have truly become our masters.

  5. On October 11, 2009 at 8:42 pm Tremere wrote:

    Of course the authorities found some reason to keep it! Let this be a lesson! NEVER turn anything in to the police!
    It will be seen nor heard of again.

  6. On October 19, 2009 at 12:10 pm Shell wrote:

    A cooler full of(drug)money, a notice that SOMEONE had lost it in the Wal-Mart parking lot. How would they have claimed this money as their’s? These people are not stupid they knew what was on the money and if they went to claim it what was going to happen. I understand you have to legally give the owner a chance to claim it but, give me a break letting the security guard attempt to claim it when they knew the entire time that it was going to law enforcement.

  7. On February 21, 2013 at 10:54 pm Helene wrote:

    The gentleman that found the money should have got a reward for his honesty.



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