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Happy returns after man finds $2,000 stuffed in envelope on Auburn sidewalk

By: Gus Thomson, Journal Staff Writer
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In a world of finders keepers, Auburn’s Daniel Verissimo could have kept the $2,000 he found on the sidewalk. But that isn’t Verissimo’s way of doing things and another Auburn resident – the one who lost the money and had it returned to her – is overjoyed. Verissimo is in his late 70s and lives on Social Security payments. His monthly check is bolstered by aluminum-can collecting in the Downtown Auburn area most mornings and augmented by the tomatoes, potatoes and other vegetables he grows for food in seemingly every nook and cranny of his yard. Verissimo spotted the Wells Fargo envelope containing the money – 17 $100 bills and six fifties – on the Lincoln Way sidewalk as he walked to 10 a.m. Mass this past Sunday at St. Joseph’s Catholic Church. Verissimo and his wife of 51 years, Franceline, thought nothing of the envelope at the time. In fact, Franceline suggested he just leave it on the ground. But he picked it up, tucked it into a pocket and went to church. The retired Placer Hills School janitor pulled the packet out after returning home and was shocked to find the pile of crisp bills inside. Verissimo said he has found cell phones and wallets in the past, and has always tried to find a way to return them to their owners. He’s also picked up pocket change on his can-collecting rounds, even finding a $20 bill once. But the $2,000 was a surprise for the 50-year Auburn resident. After talking it over with relatives, he decided the best course of action would be to turn it in to the Auburn Police. And, if no one claimed the money, it would be his in 90 days, he said. Verissimo, who came to the United States from the Portuguese Azores Islands in 1960, worked for years in local lumber operations before finding a final job at the Meadow Vista School. His ruddy face betrays a life of hard work and his worn hands hint at the manual labor he has put in over his life. The regular walks are more than about finding an extra income stream. “I’m not going to sit at home and wait until I die – no,” Verissimo said. Officer Mike Metzner, who knows Verissimo as a Downtown Auburn habitué, said he’d never seen someone come into the office with as much as $2,000 in found money before. But with the Wells Fargo imprint on the envelope, Metzner had a lead to follow. The officer visited the Downtown Auburn bank and inquired about any $2,000 withdrawals over the weekend. A computer check showed just one – for a Christine Dick. Metzner was able to locate Dick, who lives near the bank. After asking a few questions to determine that the denominations the woman lost were the same as the ones found by Verissimo, Metzner turned the bills over to Dick. Dick said that she had made the $2,000 withdrawal on Saturday in advance of a Sunday business meeting on a potential rental for a new enterprise. But the envelope had slipped out of a sheath of papers she was carrying and she was unable to locate it again. “I didn’t panic,” Dick said. “I felt God would bring it back or it was gone from my life for a reason. And it came back.” Metzner said Dick was more than happy. “She was dancing around the parking lot,” Metzner said. “She told me that she didn’t report it but that she had prayed about it.” Dick said she has already contacted Verissimo and expects that they will get together so she can thank him in person. Verissimo said his two-grand good deed was only right. “My wife said it was too much money to keep,” Verissimo said. “I think I did the right thing. If I’d lost it, I’d like to get it back the same way.”