Finance | May 11, 2020 6:00 am

Enterprising Teen Discovers Mysterious Cash in Albuquerque

Jose Nuñez Romaniz has earned praise for his honesty

Downtown Albuquerque
Downtown Albuquerque.
Asaavedra32/Creative Commons

It’s a question at the heart of many an ethical inquiry: what would you do if you found money unattended on the street? A stray dollar bill blowing in the wind down a sidewalk is one thing; a stray $20 is another. A discarded money clip full of twenties is something else entirely. Terrific works of film noir have been built around the idea of people discovering massive troves of money, claiming it as their own and rapidly unraveling as a result — including Shallow Grave and A Simple Plan, among many others.

Thankfully, there are also instances where people discover massive troves of cash of an unknown origin and look to do the ethically sound thing. Such was the case in Albuquerque, where a college student named Jose Nuñez Romaniz went to use a local ATM and discovered a plastic bag full of cash sitting next to it. Nuñez is 19, and is studying criminal justice at Central New Mexico Community College. When confronted with an ethical question that has confounded many people, he opted for the Lawful Good response: he took a photo of the bag, called 911 and reported the discovery.

Writing at The New York Times, Mariel Padilla has the details on what happened next — including one police officer’s reaction, which was to call this find “the biggest amount of money found in Albuquerque and returned.” How much was in the bag? $135,000.

Nuñez’s honesty has earned him praise from the city government and the local baseball team, the Isotopes, among others. He was also invited to apply for a job with the Albuquerque Police Department as a public service aide. “I’ve wanted to be a crime scene investigator or a detective for the police since I was a kid,” Nuñez told the Times. In an early test of his observational skills, he seems to be doing very well.

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