The saying goes that you should never count your chickens before they hatch, and with good reason too.
One contractor doing a bathroom renovation found that out the hard way when he stumbled upon every contractor’s… correction… every person’s dream.
The Nightmare Begins
The nightmare began just like any other day. Preparing for a day of work remodeling a bathroom in Cleveland Bob Kitts got to work gutting the place.
It was a bathroom like any other and there was nothing from the outside that was telling him any different. He began to gut it.
A Lucky Find
While he was tearing down the walls he couldn’t help but notice two green metal lockboxes suspended inside a wall below the medicine chest.
They were suspended from a wire inside the wall and Bob couldn’t help himself. He grabbed the boxes and pulled them out.
“I ripped the corner off of one,” Kitts said during a deposition in a lawsuit filed by Dunne’s estate. “I saw a 50 and got a little dizzy.”
Then he called Reece, a former high school classmate who had hired him for the remodeling project. What they did next was par for the course but ill-timed.
A Lot Of Cash
With wads of cash surrounding them, they started snapping photo’s as though they had won the jackpot. They began counting the cash which was a staggering $182,000 in Depression-era currency.
There was no need to know where the money came from. Inside were envelopes with the return address for the P. Dunne News Agency.
Who Gets To Keep It?
One Patrick Dunne — a wealthy businessman had stashed away that money which was minted in a time of bank collapses and joblessness.
But in a time very similar to those that Patrick had stockpiled money, who had a claim to the cash? Him or the homeowner? It was a question that would take months to figure out.
Within weeks of the find, ecstasy turned to hostility, and Reece and Kitts began to fight over how to divide the money.
Reece offered Kitts a 10 percent finder’s fee, Bob found that to be an insult and said he wanted 40 percent. That’s when things started going downhill for Bob.
Spending It All
Reese began spending the money before it had been divvied up. A nice trip to Hawaii for $14,000, selling $54,000 on eBay and to collectors and then living off the money when the mortgage industry collapsed and she lost her job.
Even worse was to come.
A Lot More Claims
Of the original $182,000, 86 percent, or $157,000, was wrapped in envelopes marked “P. Dunne,” All of that money would have been due to Dunne’s heirs if Reese hadn’t spent most of it already.
All twenty-one of them. Eventually, to top the rampant spending the Magistrate ordered Reece to surrender all remaining money until he could rule on who is entitled to it.
No One Wins
Eventually, the money was simply divided. The heirs would get 86.3 percent, Bob only 13.7 percent which amounted to $3,456.51, before legal fees.
That’s roughly $46,000 less than Reece’s original offer of a 10 percent finder’s fee. “The threats and all — that’s the part that makes you wish it never happened.” Bob recounts.