Couple Finds $100,000 in Safe Deposit Box

Image credit: Corey Sipkin/NY Daily News via Getty Images

An elderly couple in Brooklyn, N.Y., found a huge pile of cash-what they reckon was $100,000-in a bank's safety deposit box.

Joe Valinoti, 82, and his companion, Kathleen Ricigliano, 81, said they opened a safe deposit box account with Sovereign Bank in February. Valinoti said he wanted to safely store some personal documents.

"I made my funeral arrangements with papers, in case my daughter needed them, God forbid," Valinoti said.

After filling out the forms for the box, he returned two weeks later to store his documents. He said a branch manager led the pair downstairs to the safe deposit boxes.

The manager pulled out a "long, skinny box" and left the couple alone in a room to store the documents.

"When she felt it, it didn't feel right to her," Valinoti said about Ricigliano. "She stuck her hand in there and there were all $100 bills. She got very, very nervous and didn't know what to do."

He said the two looked at each other, and opened the door to the manager standing outside to show him the box.

"The first thing he said was, 'You're very honest people'," Valinoti said. "He put the box some place and that was the last we saw of the box."

They asked for a receipt or documentation to prove they had turned in all the money, for the sake of the rightful owner. But the manager refused, Valinoti said, explaining that it had to go to "higher-ups."

After Valinoti got a new box, he and Ricigliano wanted to know more about what happened to the money, telling some family and friends about the discovery.

The state personal property law says found property must be turned over to police, the New York Daily News reports. If the property is unclaimed after a year, it could belong to the person who found it, but there are other laws that govern bank safe deposit boxes.

A spokeswoman for Sovereign Bank said it has been trying to reach the "legitimate owner" of the property that was found.

"In the meantime, we're acting as custodian of the property in accordance with our procedures and the law," she said. "Since federal and state privacy laws keep us from being able to share customer information, we can't comment about the specifics of this situation. What we can say is that if it turns out the owner of the property can't be located for whatever reason, we'll follow the abandoned property statues under New York State law."

Kimberly Schechter, Novick and Associates PC in New York, said the issue would be who owned the box and whether that person is still alive. If the person it not alive, it could belong to that person's estate.

Novick recommends that any person in New York who thinks they have lost property should visit the website of the state's Office of Unclaimed Funds.