Kathleen Ricigliano & Joe Valinoti Could've Cashed Out Big, But Chose Not To

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — Imagine if your bank mistakenly handed you tens of thousands of dollars.

It happened to a Brooklyn couple and they didn’t take the money and run; they handed it back.

Kathleen Ricigliano and Joe Valinoti are looking for answers. The Sovereign Bank customers could have cashed out big, but chose not to do so.

The couple decided to get a safety deposit box. A few weeks ago when the box was brought to them for the very first time so they could deposit valuables, they realized it wasn’t empty.

“I couldn’t even talk. I was scared. I was so scared, really. I don’t know why,” Ricigliano told CBS 2’s Tony Aiello. “It’s stuffed. We pull it out — it’s all money. Oh my God. I said ‘Don’t touch it. Don’t touch it — it’s not ours.'”

“I touched it! Stack of 100s like this,” Valinoti explained.

A bank employee later told them the money totaled $60,000.

They could have stuffed the money in Ricigliano’s handbag. Instead, they called the branch manager into the room and turned it in.

It’s a dilemma Aiello presented to some other Brooklyn residents, who weighed in.

“It’s the right thing to do, but it’s really strange that such a thing could happen,” said Avrohom Bodenstein, of Borough Park.

“Maybe if I turn it in I get a little reimbursement, a little reward money? But yeah, that would have been a hard decision!” said Rashad Milton.

Valinoti said people thought the couple was “crazy.”

“People called us up, said we were crazy — said ‘Should have left it there for a week then gone back with her son or daughter or somebody,” said Valinoti.

Ricigliano and Valinoti are understandably pretty curious as to what happened to all that cash. The bank basically told them — you just gotta trust us.

Sovereign Bank said in a statement “We do have processes in place to ensure that any belongings left behind by our customers are handled properly and in accordance with all applicable laws.”

“I think they should find the owner,” Ricigliano said.

The couple didn’t take the cash, but said they wouldn’t mind a reward.

They said they believe the money had been sitting in the safety deposit box for some time. A bank employee told them the box hadn’t been rented in more than five years.

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