Family's well-hidden Savings Bonds found in trash
Monday, July 24th, 2006
Categorized as: Inheriting and bequeathing US Savings Bonds
The moral of this story is that you can be too careful when deciding where to keep your Savings Bonds. The problem is that you can forget where you hid them or you die and your family throws them out.
Ernest Lehto, a Detoit postal service worker, invested $4,450 in Savings Bonds in the 1980s. He kept them in the vest pocket of a suit coat in his closet. Since he died in 2004, family members say, they have found other securities in photo envelopes and other odd places.
After his death, his family donated Lehto's clothing to charity.
Charles Moore, 59, who had recently lost his roofing job in Toledo and had moved to Detroit, was looking through trash containers for returnable cans and bottles when Lehto's bonds slid out of a bag of clothing. Apparently whoever received the clothing neither wore nor re-donated it when it was no longer needed.
Unlike the reporters and award givers who have made a hero out of him, Moore knew he couldn't the cash the bonds - he didn't even count them. "They're no good to nobody but the person (named)," he said correctly. So he took them to a shelter where he often eats breakfast and asked the staff to help him find the owners.
Cincarla Hardge called information and got three phone numbers. The second one she called was Lehto's widow. "It didn't take but a second," Hardge said.
Neil Lehto, an attorney and Ernest Lehto's son, gave Moore a small reward, but if Moore and Hardge had a lost property firm, they might have gotten 20% or more of the $21,000 value of the bonds. Moore's action has received a lot of publicity, however, and as a result he has a new job.
The original story was published in the July 22 Detroit News, Homeless man gets $100 after finding $21K in bonds. For a followup, see WXYZ TV's Homeless Man Rewarded For Good Deed.