Needy Man Finds, Returns $125K

PHOTO: Joe Cornell, 52, found $125,000 in cash in an orange bag. He returned it soon after.
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A California man in rehabilitation for drug addiction and with no cash to his name discovered $125,000 cash in an orange bag, only to return it shortly afterward.

Joe Cornell, 52, of Fresno, California, was watering trees at his job at a parking lot across from the Salvation Army Fresno Adult Rehabilitation Center when he overheard a vehicle honking at an armored Brink’s truck on the corner.

“The car had pulled up next to the truck, like it had dropped something,” Cornell told ABC News today.

After the two vehicles pulled away, Cornell walked down to the corner to have a look.

“I look and I see this big orange bag, like a Santa Claus bag. I thought, ‘No way, it’s got to be clothes or something,’” Cornell said. “Inside, I saw some of the money sticking out, individually wrapped stacks of $100s. It looked like deposits from businesses.”

Cornell took the bag back to a nearby trailer and discovered the cash inside amounted to a whopping $125,000. He was conflicted momentarily over what to do with the money.

“I thought about it, it was a good-devil-bad-devil thing on your shoulder, but taking the money wouldn’t compare to what my grandkids would think of me if I did something like that,” Cornell said. “This shelter is trying to change my life. I tried to do the right thing.”

So Cornell took the bag of money to his supervisor at the shelter, who then notified police to return the cash.

Cornell has been in rehabilitation for drug addiction since January and works washing and shining cars at the lot across the street from the Salvation Army shelter.

“It’s an incredible thing he did,” Cornell’s ex-wife, Virginia Cornell, who lives in Las Vegas, told ABC News.

Brink’s, the logistics company that lost the money, plans on giving Cornell a $5,000 reward, and the shelter a $5,000 donation, according to Cornell.

Cornell remains focused on his rehabilitation and setting a good example for his family. He has no regrets about his decision to return the cash.

“Some time or another, [police] are going to track [the money] back,” Cornell said. “I have been to jail too many times. I’m tired of doing that. People have called me crazy, but I am here trying to change my life,”

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