Teen Finds $135,000 Next To An ATM And Turns It In

May 12, 2020

An Albuquerque teen returned $135,000 in cash after finding it next to an ATM.

Now he's being rewarded by local businesses for his good deed.

good news teen returns cash
Jose Nuñez Romaniz / CNN

Jose Nuñez Romaniz, 19, was on a mission to buy socks for his grandfather. Before he could make the purchase, he stopped at an ATM outside a Wells Fargo bank to deposit money.

As he pulled his truck alongside the machine, he spotted a clear plastic bag on the ground. It was a filled with stacks of $50 and $20 bills, he said.

good news teen returns cash
Credit: CNN

"I didn't know what to do. I was, like, dreaming," Nuñez told CNN. "I was just in shock. I was looking at myself and just thinking, 'What should I do?'"

Instead of taking off with the cash, Nuñez called Albuquerque police and handed over the money.

It totaled $135,000.

Albuquerque police said the money was mistakenly left outside the ATM by a bank subcontractor that was meant to supply the machine with cash.

"This money could have made an incredible amount of difference in his life if he went down the other path, but he chose … the integrity path and did the right thing," said Officer Simon Drobik, a spokesman for the Albuquerque police.

Nuñez said that as he stared at the cash, waiting for police officers to arrive, he could hear the lessons of his parents in his head.

"My parents always taught me to work for my own. Stolen money would never last you any time," Nuñez recalled his mother and father teaching him.


But Nuñez's integrity hasn't gone unrewarded.

Albuquerque ESPN Radio presented him with signed sports memorabilia -- including a football autographed by former NFL and University of New Mexico linebacker Brian Urlacher.

The radio station also threw in six season tickets for UNM football, said station president Joe O'Neill, who had heard about Nuñez's story from a police acquaintance.

At least three local businesses presented Nuñez with $500 each, with one of them — a restaurant — adding a $100 gift card.

The Albuquerque police department presented Nuñez with a plaque and offered him a job as he plans to major in Criminal Justice.

Several officers went to Nuñez's home before he returned and praised him to his parents.

His mom was proud of him.

"She told me I did the right thing and that she was proud of me," Nuñez said. "She called me and almost started crying."

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