Trials & Litigation

'Lettuce' Case: Does $150K Veggie Garden Cash Stash Go to Finder, Neighbor or Robbery Victim?


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An unemployed carpenter who alerted authorities last year to a $150,000 cash stash in the vegetable garden of his suburban Chicago home is getting a courtroom education on found property law.

Two other claimants have come forward to vie for a court ruling awarding them ownership of the “lettuce,” and a lawyer for one, whose Naperville liquor store was robbed in 2010, filed a motion Thursday in McHenry County asking for a court order requiring the county not to deposit the money so the actual bills can be examined as possible evidence in the unsolved criminal case, the Chicago Tribune reports.

Basim Esmail’s liquor store is about 50 miles from where Wayne Sabaj found the money.

“There’s always that possibility that they got frightened and put the money in that garden and hoped to get it back sometime and forgot where they put it,” Esmail told the newspaper. “What a coincidence. … It could be our money.”

Sabaj had told the Tribune a year earlier, when he found the money, that he called police even though he was “totally broke” because “with my luck, it would’ve came from a bank robbery and I’d be charged.”

A neighbor of Sabaj’s also is seeking the money, although the newspaper doesn’t detail the basis of her claim to the cash stash.

Earlier coverage: “Unemployed Man Hires Lawyer After Finding Cash Totaling $150K in His Backyard”

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