For Bob Tracey, it pays to be honest – it pays $15,200, to be exact.
Last March, Tracey, 62, found a bag full of $15,200 in cash in the middle of State Road in Upper Darby. He immediately called police and turned the money in to authorities.
Upper Darby Police Superintendent Michael Chitwood was so impressed by the good deed, he said at the time that he believed the money should go to Tracey, a SEPTA worker, if nobody claimed the cash.
And this week – after more than a year – a judge agreed with him.
On Monday, Delaware County Court of Common Pleas Judge Charles Burr II ordered the money returned to Tracey, according to court documents.
Although Chitwood believed the money should have been returned to Tracey within 90 days if the owner did not come forward, Tracey was forced to petition the courts in September to get the money returned, as was first reported by the Delaware County Daily Times.
According to Tracey's petition, under state law "a finder of lost property has a valid claim for title of that property against all persons except the true owner."
It's unclear why Tracey's legal battle dragged on for six months. A listed number for him was not operational, and calls to his attorney were not immediately returned.
"The bureaucracy was a nightmare for the guy," Chitwood said. "He had to jump through a lot of hoops for being honest. Most people would have taken the money and kept on going."
Tracey was driving home from work at SEPTA's Norristown High Speed Line around 11:45 p.m. March 7, 2016, when he noticed a Wells Fargo bank bag in the road in Delaware County.
He parked his car, grabbed the bag, and opened it. Inside he found "multiple stacks of cash-money wrapped in bank wrapping," according to the petition.
Chitwood said police also discovered a digital scale, a crack-cocaine pipe, and a vial of unidentified liquid in the bag.