DOCUMENT: Bizarre, Crime

Gimme My Money Back!

DEA derides New York man's tale about $200,000 found on sidewalk

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Gimme My Money Back!

FEBRUARY 20--Luis Pichardo would appreciate it if the federal government returned to him the nearly $200,000 that he had the good fortune to recently find on a New York City sidewalk. But the Drug Enforcement Administration is not willing to accommodate that request.

As Pichardo tells it, he was in upper Manhattan last October when he spotted a man standing near a pay phone. After about 15 minutes, the man walked away, but left behind a brown paper shopping bag. As he recalled in an administrative claim filed in December, Pichardo was 'curious as to what might be in the bag.' So he walked over to it, and, after removing a sweater from the bag, discovered 'a substantial amount of U.S. Currency.' $195,680 to be exact.

Pichardo claims he was 'not sure what I should do as the person who left the bag was gone.' So he took the bag of cash, placed it in his Acura, and waited two hours to see if anyone came back looking for the money. He then drove to his sister's house in Queens. On the way, law enforcement officers attempted to stop his car at a toll booth on the Triborough Bridge, but Pichardo eluded them (it is unclear what alerted agents to Pichardo and his vehicle).

When investigators soon caught up with him, Pichardo told of how he supposedly found the money, adding that he did not want a receipt for the cash, which DEA agents seized. But two months later, Pichardo had a change of heart and filed a claim for the cash with the DEA. Government lawyers have opposed that request and this week filed a U.S. District Court complaint seeking forfeiture of the funds, which they believe are the proceeds of narcotics trafficking (an excerpt from the February 18 complaint can be found here).

In a brief interview, Pichardo, who told agents he was an unemployed construction worker, directed TSG to his lawyer. Pichardo, who said he could only remember the attorney's first name ('Gene'), provided a cell phone number, but messages left there were not returned. (5 pages)

Comments (1)

"DEA derides New York man's tale about $200,000 found on sidewalk" Mr. Pichardo must think those D.E.A. agents and everyone who reads this article fell off a turnip truck last night. Who in their right mind would buy that story. What self respecting drug dealer, kingpin, mule or mobster would leave $200,000 dollars in cash, unattended in front of a phone booth in New York city of all places. I would not have left it in May-berry RFD. I think the DEA was wise to this guy, Pichardo and his dirty money. Pichardo realized they were after him and he attempted to elude them and failed. He concocted this elaborately outlandish story to cover his behind. He wasn't sure if they had anything else on him and did not want to go to jail. After a period of time passed and he figured he was safe as far as jail went he became concerned about the $200,000 dollars of someone else's money that he lost. He has know idea how he is going to make good on that and he is probably running out of time. I'm sure his boss or bosses are not happy with him and he's probably going to have to disappear before someone introduces him to Jimmy Hoffa!