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A Rockledge middle school teacher who made sure a backpack filled with thousands of dollars in cash was returned to its rightful owner has been rewarded for his honesty.
Kennedy Middle School Spanish teacher Leo Nicaragua found the backpack Thursday shortly after classes dismissed for the day. Once he realized no one was coming to claim it, he took a look inside.
“I see a big pile of money and I’m like, ‘No, this is not a student’s bag.’ So I got all scared and put the money back in the bag,” he said.
All in all, Rockledge police said the bag contained $6,000 in cash, a $15,000 check, three vehicle titles, a box of medical masks, a box of latex gloves and Lysol wipes.
As it turns out, the backpack belonged to a local business owner and the money inside was meant to pay his employees.
He said he accidentally set the bag on top of his car as he was leaving a gas station and drove off with it there.
Nicaragua turned over the backpack to police without taking a single cent, even though that same day he received a notification from his bank that he had no more money in his account.
“But there was not one instant that I thought, ’I need this money for me,’” he said. “The minute I saw the money, I thought someone lost this money and someone needs to get their money back.”
Now that the owner has been reunited with his lost funds, he decided to give Nicaragua $300 as a token of his appreciation. Since he owns a used car dealership, he also offered to fix a broken light on Nicaragua’s car, saving the teacher $400.