|Lara Russo with the cash |
found stashed in the couch
Third-year geology student Reese Werkhoven, Mount Holyoke College graduate Cally Guasti and SUNY New Paltz graduate Lara Russo were getting cozy on their new couch for the first time, when Werkhoven ruffled himself a plastic envelope from under the couch’s patchy arm.
“I almost peed,” Werkhoven said. Inside the envelope was a wad of twenties that added up to $700.
“The most money I’d ever found in a couch was like fifty cents. Honestly, I’d be ecstatic to find just $5 in a couch.”
The group began a thorough excavation, maneuvering the couch in all directions so that every linty crevice could be probed to find more money.
“Just when we thought we pulled out the last envelope we’d find another $1,000 a few minutes later,” said Guasti.
Twenty minutes after sitting on an old musky couch, three college students were now miraculously standing on $40,000 in cash.
For a while, there were no notes, no names, or anything else that could have told them who the money belonged to. For all they knew the money was fair game.
Then there was a game changer. Russo found a woman’s name on one of the envelopes.
“We had a lot of moral discussions about the money,” Russo said. “We all agreed that we had to bring the money back to whoever it belonged to… it’s their money– we didn’t earn it. However, there were a lot of gray areas we had to consider.”