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Reload this Page Cops take man's $1000 bill, Refuse to return it.
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Old 01-16-04   #1
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Cops take man's $1000 bill, Refuse to return it.

*full story*

For 20 years, Curtis Smith Sr. carried a rare $1,000 bill in his pocket with no intention of spending it.

"Nobody ever knew I had it," Smith explained. "I thought of it as a novelty."

Smith, 71, expected to keep the note safely tucked in his pants until the day he died.

Instead, he kept it in his pants until the day in April that Pine Lawn police took it away from him.

The bill might be back in those pants today, except that Mayor Adrian Wright also fancied it as a novelty.

So it sits in limbo in the mayor's safe at City Hall.

"They took my money and gave me a check instead," complained Smith, a retired truck driver from Jennings. "If you take a personal item from someone, you should give it back."

St. Louis County police and prosecutors looked into the circumstances and decided that Pine Lawn officials broke no laws, even though the note has a collector's value of more than the amount returned to Smith.

But outside officials did frown on Pine Lawn police for their actions.

"It's a bad idea for a city official or politician to have access to evidence," said Don Schneider, spokesman for the St. Louis County Prosecuting Attorney Robert McCulloch. "It creates the appearance of impropriety. We don't advocate doing business that way."

The story began 20 years ago, when Smith asked a friend who worked at a bank to call him if she ever came across a $1,000 note. Smith traded in other cash when she found one.

The government had printed its last $1,000 bill in 1934 and took the denomination out of circulation in 1969 after technology replaced paper notes for transfers of large sums.

Today, collectors will pay from $1,300 to $3,500 for the rare currency, with its portrait of President Grover Cleveland, depending on the condition, experts said.

Smith's note was among the last printed, and part of a large batch released through the Chicago Federal Reserve Bank. Those factors reduce its value as a collectible.

Smith said he kept it rolled under a rubber band with several $100 bills and a few $2 bills. The years wore on the bills, which he said were faded, moldy and sticking together.

A Pine Lawn officer found the cash when he arrested Smith on suspicion of drunken driving April 28.

Smith said he had been asleep in his truck about 2 a.m., parked on a lot he owns in the 6200 block of Natural Bridge Road, when Cpl. Michael Waisner found him.

Smith admitted he had a few drinks that night but said he planned to sleep it off before driving home.

Smith failed several field sobriety tests, according to the police report. So Waisner arrested him.

Officers reported finding more than a dozen marijuana cigarettes in Smith's truck. They booked him on suspicion of possession of a controlled substance, driving under the influence, carrying an open container of alcohol in a vehicle and no insurance.

Back at the police station, Mayor Wright observed as police counted the money, according to the official report.

"Wright stated that he would like to purchase the previously mentioned $1,000 bill as a novelty item, as few people have ever had the opportunity to see a bill in that denomination," the report said.

Wright went to the St. Louis Community Credit Union and withdrew 10 $100 bills, the report explained. Police switched the money and deposited it in an account for seized drug assets.

In September, St. Louis County prosecutors refused to charge Smith with selling drugs and ordered Pine Lawn police to return his money. The city issued Smith a check for $3,231 to cover the $1,000 bill plus his other cash.

Smith, who is fighting the traffic charges, said he called and visited Pine Lawn police several times to ask for his rare bill, but officials refused to return it.

Wright did not return a reporter's calls.

When contacted by a reporter, Pine Lawn City Attorney Mark Zoole said the bill never left City Hall and would be returned to Smith if he asks - and as long as it is not still considered evidence in a criminal case.

Zoole noted, "He, of course, would have to pay for it."


Here is the mayors phone number from the city website.
Mayor Adrian Wright
3827 Philbrook Ave. 63120
phone: 314-261-5500
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Old 01-17-04   #2
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While I agree that the bill should be returned to the fellow, I have to question his judgement at carrying such a rare and valuable bill around on his person. At least he knows where the bill is. Had it been a carjacker or robber who found him sleeping in his car, rather than a police officer, it would be a different story.

Why not simply get a safety deposit box at the bank to keep it in? Or even a home safe?
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Old 01-17-04   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Shadowborn
While I agree that the bill should be returned to the fellow, I have to question his judgement at carrying such a rare and valuable bill around on his person. At least he knows where the bill is. Had it been a carjacker or robber who found him sleeping in his car, rather than a police officer, it would be a different story.

Why not simply get a safety deposit box at the bank to keep it in? Or even a home safe?

Agreed.

Two sayings come to mind here.

1.) There is no honor among theives.

2.) A fool and his money are soon parted.
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Old 01-17-04   #4
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Neither saying is relevant, but that hardly seems to matter, I guess.


Give the man back his fucking good luck charm, dickheads.
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Old 01-17-04   #5
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And, on the topic, anyone else think that arresting people for drunk driving because they were in a car with alchohol, regardless of whether or not the car was on or driven recently, asshatist?
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Old 01-17-04   #6
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Originally Posted by Dark Messiah
And, on the topic, anyone else think that arresting people for drunk driving because they were in a car with alchohol, regardless of whether or not the car was on or driven recently, asshatist?
Definitely. This guy needs to find himself a good lawyer.
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Old 01-17-04   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Dark Messiah
And, on the topic, anyone else think that arresting people for drunk driving because they were in a car with alchohol, regardless of whether or not the car was on or driven recently, asshatist?
As long as the keys arent in the ignition there's no DWI, if someone passes out in their car with the keys in the ignition, then they be fucked. Thats an important note to all you drunks out there, if its 20 degrees and you have to pass out drunk in your car, dont start the engine for the heater, just suffer, or else you'll be sleeping it off in a cell. Just put the keys on the floor.
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Old 01-21-04   #8
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Originally Posted by thefr0g
Thats an important note to all you drunks out there, if its 20 degrees and you have to pass out drunk in your car, dont start the engine for the heater, just suffer, or else you'll be sleeping it off in a cell. Just put the keys on the floor.
There is also the danger of carbon monoxide poisoning.

As far as legal technicalities, I think you have to be on a state road or highway to fall under their jurisdiction. Such laws would not apply if you were driving on your privately owned land.
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Old 01-22-04   #9
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The guy was on property that he owned himself!

Quote:
Smith said he had been asleep in his truck about 2 a.m., parked on a lot he owns in the 6200 block of Natural Bridge Road, when Cpl. Michael Waisner found him.
The arrest was not ony unlawful, it was further added to by serching his personal property ON his personal property. If your car is on your property, the police have no right to even appproach it WITHOUT A SEARCH WARRANT.

That case will be thrown out, and the poor guy will have to sue to get his personal possession back, which by the way is unlawful theft by the officers.
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Old 01-24-04   #10
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Police Return $1,000 Bill to Trucker
2 hours, 21 minutes ago Add U.S. National - AP to My Yahoo!



PINE LAWN, Mo. - A man's treasured $1,000 bill was returned by police who swapped it for more common currency at the mayor's request after the trucker was arrested.



Curtis Smith Sr., 71, had made several requests to have the rare bill returned without success. On Friday the city gave him the money back in exchange for 10 $100 bills.


"I'm glad I got it back," the retired trucker said as he headed out the door.


Pine Lawn officials gave no explanation for returning the note, which Smith got from a banker friend 20 years ago. But the St. Louis County Prosecutor's office said earlier the city's keeping of the note created the appearance of impropriety.


The bill was seized last April when Smith was arrested on suspicion of drunken driving. Smith said he was sleeping off a few drinks in his truck on a lot he owns.


According to an official report, after Smith was taken into custody Mayor Adrian Wright watched as police counted Smith's money, including the $1,000 bill, several $100 bills and a few $2 bills.


Wright said he wanted the bill, which portrays President Grover Cleveland, "as a novelty item, as few people have ever had the opportunity to see a bill in that denomination." The mayor fetched 10 $100 bills, and police switched the money and deposited it in an account for seized drug assets, the report said.


In September, county prosecutors refused to charge Smith with selling drugs and ordered the money returned. The city issued Smith a check for $3,231 to cover the $1,000 bill and his other cash.


The U.S. government printed its last $1,000 bill in 1934 and took the denomination out of circulation in 1969 after technology replaced paper notes for transfers of large sums. Experts say collectors will pay $1,300 to $3,500 for such bills, depending on their condition.
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Old 01-25-04   #11
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