New Mexico teen rewarded for turning in $135K of cash found near ATM

National News

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (KRQE) – Not everyone would do what an Albuquerque teen did Sunday after finding a bag full of $135,000 in cash near an ATM.

When 19-year-old college student José Nuñez Romaniz called police that day, the story that unfolded got the attention of city leaders. On Thursday, he was recognized for doing the right thing when no one was looking.

“What a great opportunity for us to see some good in the community with all the tragedies we see with young people, this really restores our faith in the community as well,” said Albuquerque Police Chief Mike Geier. Geier, along with Albuquerque Mayor Tim Keller, presented Nuñez with tokens of appreciation, saying his actions on Sunday reflect the goodness in the community.

Nuñez was at the Wells Fargo ATM on Sunday morning to get money to buy his grandfather some socks. When he looked down, he saw a big, clear bag full of cash – $135,000 to be exact.

The teen immediately called the 1-800 number on the ATM and then the police. It turns out, the Wells Fargo subcontractor whose job it is to fill the ATM left the cash there by accident.

“Man, we all know that temptation – even just take a little, just one of those bundles off the top, I mean that had to be really hard,” laughed Mayor Keller. All joking aside, Keller said, “I’m just absolutely impressed.”

“Whether you can believe that it is divine, or it’s good luck or whatever, we were just talking about how – the irony that his career is so far leaning towards criminal justice, and he happens to be looking for a job, and we happen to be hiring,” Mayor Keller added. Nuñez is studying criminal justice at Central New Mexico Community College and wants to pursue a career in law enforcement.

When asked what went through his mind when he found the cash, Nuñez replied, “In the back of my head, I was just thinking about my parents, especially my mom,” he recalled. “What she would do if I came home with the money and what she would do with her chancla (sandal) to hit me,” he laughed. “I did the right thing and I know my parents are proud and my family is proud as well.”

José and his parents presented with a $500 reward from Public Service Company of New Mexico.

The Public Service Company of New Mexico presented Nuñez with a $500 check to put towards his tuition. El Patron gave him a gift card and $500 cash reward, and ESPN radio gave the family Lobo football season tickets and a signed Brian Urlacher football. Nuñez thanked his parents for teaching him to do the right thing.

APD also gave the Nuñez family a tour of the department’s crime lab. Chief Geier said they’ll recruit the teen to become a public safety officer while he’s in school if he’s interested.

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