Jose Nuñez Romaniz found the bag of cash while depositing money so he could buy socks for his grandfather

By Jason Duaine Hahn
May 11, 2020 04:38 PM
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Credit: Albuquerque Police Department

A 19-year-old New Mexico man is being praised for finding and returning a bag filled with thousands of dollars outside of a bank.

José Nuñez Romaniz drove to a local Wells Fargo bank on Sunday morning to deposit money when he came across something surprising — next to the ATM was a clear plastic bag filled with dozens of $50 and $20 bills, according to CNN.

"I didn't know what to do. I was, like, dreaming," Nuñez, a Central New Mexico Community College student, recalled to the news station. "I was just in shock. I was looking at myself and just thinking, 'What should I do?'"

At first, Nuñez said he was confused and wondered if he was being tricked. For a moment, the thought even crossed his mind that the money was a ploy to kidnap him. But Nuñez played it safe and made the responsible decision to call the Albuquerque Police Department, who then sent two officers out to pick up the cash.

After counting the money back at the station, the officers reportedly said Nuñez had come across a whopping $135,000 that had been left out by a bank subcontractor who was supposed to put the money in the machine.

José Nuñez Romaniz
| Credit: Albuquerque Police Department

"This money could have made an incredible amount of difference in his life if he went down the other path," a spokesman for the Albuquerque police told CNN.

"But he chose ... the integrity path and did the right thing," the spokesman added.

Nuñez said he visited the ATM to deposit money to order socks for his grandfather online.

On Thursday, Albuquerque police recognized Nuñez and presented him with a plaque.

"Meet Jose, this week his selfless actions lead him to contact police and help return $135,000 in cash that he found near an ATM. He is pursuing a degree in criminal justice," the department wrote on Facebook. "Chief Geier and Mayor Tim Keller invited Jose to the Police Academy where he was recognized and honored for exhibiting the pillars of APD: Integrity, Fairness, Pride and Respect."

Nuñez was also offered season tickets for the University of New Mexico football team by local sports radio station 101.7 FM, and at least three businesses in the area gave him $500 each for his good deed.

"My parents always taught me to work for my own," Nuñez told CNN. "Stolen money would never last you any time."