Real Estate & Property Law

Unemployed Man Hires Lawyer After Finding Cash Totaling $150K in His Backyard

An unemployed man in Northwest suburban Chicago called police after he found a big bag of money in his backyard garden.

Police searched the yard and found a second bag of money; together they contained about $150,000, report the Chicago Tribune, the Northwest Herald and the Chicago Sun-Times. Wayne Sabaj, a carpenter who says he is unemployed and “totally broke,” called police because he feared repercussions. “With my luck,” he told the Tribune, “it would’ve came from a bank robbery and I’d be charged.”

Sheriff’s police say Sabaj has hired a lawyer. Chicago-Kent law professor Dan Tarlock tells the Tribune that Sabaj could end up with the money, though it’s a long shot.

If the money was stolen, the victim will get it, Tarlock says. If it can be traced to drug crimes, police could confiscate it. And if the rightful owner comes forward, he or she can claim it. Otherwise, Sabaj can file a claim under an Illinois law originally written to cover stray cattle. If no one shows up within a year of an ad announcing the lost property, Sabaj could keep it.

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