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  1. #1

    Apr 2005
    Colorado Springs, CO
    420
    1 times

    Charges Dismissed in 'Buried Treasure' Case


    Charges Dismissed in 'Buried Treasure' Case

    LAWRENCE, Mass. (AP) -- A judge threw out charges Friday against four men accused of stealing antique money they originally claimed to have found buried in a backyard.

    Police determined the men actually found the money last April in an old barn that three of them had been hired to repair.

    Their lawyers had sought the dismissal, arguing that the money was abandoned property because nobody knew it was in the barn.

    The 1,800 antique bills dating from 1899 to 1928 have a face value of about $7,000. A coin dealer the men contacted to appraise the money said he received an offer of $720,000.

    Steve O'Connell, a prosecution spokesman, said charges might be refiled.

    Tim Crebase of Methuen, Mass., and Barry Billcliff of Manchester, N.H., had been charged with larceny. Kevin Kozak and Matthew Ingham of Newton, N.H., had been charged with receiving stolen property and other counts.

    Police last year said the money belonged to barn owner Sylvia J. Littlefield, 75.

    The money remains in the possession of the local police department, said Michael Ruane, a lawyer for Crebase. It is unclear how the dispute will be resolved, laywers said.

    Clad ain't bad but silver's better!

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  3. #2
    Charter Member
    us
    MINELAB XS-2 Pro ....... XTERRA 305 ....... EXPLORER SE PRO

    Dec 2003
    S.W. Schuylkill County
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    Re: Charges Dismissed in 'Buried Treasure' Case

    THANKS Klaatu for the update.

    I know some will disagree, But I for one am Happy
    to hear the Judge threw it out.
    It's not that much different then being hired to find a Ring,
    and locating a Cache while there.

    It's nice to know at least one judge believes in the
    Finders Keepers rule, when TRUE Ownership is suspect.

    OR At least that NO Laws were Broken, even if there "BIG MOUTHS"
    got them to loose the money.

    JEFF

  4. #3
    us
    Dec 2004
    Troy X5
    7,135
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    All Types Of Treasure Hunting

    Re: Charges Dismissed in 'Buried Treasure' Case

    "BIG MOUTHS"............. LMAOAGREED...
    All animals are equal, but some are more equal then others. -George Orwell

  5. #4
    hu
    Gypsyheart~ Queen of Rust

    Nov 2005
    Ozarks
    12,689
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    Re: Charges Dismissed in 'Buried Treasure' Case

    You are correct...Big Mouths!....Glad the judge threw it out...but now who gets the money....hmmmmm...the attorneys?
    I go a great distance,while some are considering whether they will start today or tomorrow

  6. #5
    us
    Random chance seems to have operated in our favor

    Oct 2004
    Oklahoma
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    Re: Charges Dismissed in 'Buried Treasure' Case

    I'm sure the DA's office will refile and then get the money to be held in perpetuity till the real owners are found. The guys will get a bill for attny fees and court costs and a lesson in life (aka-shut your mouth and tell nobody).

  7. #6
    us
    Feb 2006
    New Hampshire - USA
    Fisher CZ21, Teknetics T2 & Minelab Sovereign GT
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    Re: Charges Dismissed in 'Buried Treasure' Case

    I'm gonna play the part of the "disagreeing voice" here. The owner of the shed/barn where this money was discovered, hired these guys to do a gutter and/or roofing job on property they owned. Granted it appears nobody knew the money was there, but the owner of the property it was found on must have some legal right to it no?

    Supposedly the guys claim that the owner told them verbally that if they found anything, they could have it - considering these are the same guys who lied over and over about how they found it in the first place, I have my doubts as to whether anyone ever told them they could keep anything they found.

    I don't personally think the analogy of being hired to find a ring and finding a cache while in the process is very valid considering these guys were not hired to "clean out the shed" or find anything, but rather to make a repair.

    Being a treasure hunter at heart, I have to say had I been in their shoes, I would have of course kept my mouth tightly shut and slowly sold off the money to collectors around the country, however deep down I would have known that it wasn't my money to sell.

    Let me put out a different analogy and see what you think: Suppose your grandfather hides an extremely rare coin worth $200,000 in an old bandaid tin on a top shelf in your garage. He passes away without ever telling you about it and one day you hire an electrician to do some wiring in the garage and he accidentally knocks over the tin spilling out the coin and decides to take it. Is that stealing or is it "finders keepers" and he has as much right to it as you do?

    Just trying to play devil's advocate here.

    "There is no getting away from a treasure that once fastens upon your mind" - Joseph Conrad (Nostromo)

  8. #7

    Apr 2005
    Colorado Springs, CO
    420
    1 times

    Re: Charges Dismissed in 'Buried Treasure' Case

    Cubfan,

    You took the words out of my mouth. I agree 100%. While I would have been severely tempted to keep the bills myself I would always know that they really belonged to the property owner.

    Put yourself in the shoes of the property owner and I think you will agree.

    Is this case that much different than property found in abandoned safe deposit boxes? Does this property belong to whoever opens the box or the person or his/her heirs who placed them there? Just last week here in Colorado a Purple Heart found in an abandoned safe deposit box was returned to the daughter of a deceased VN War vet. That was the right thing to do.

    "Finders keepers" worked fine in grade school but in real life it has limits.

    Clad ain't bad but silver's better!

  9. #8

    Jan 2006
    11

    Re: Charges Dismissed in 'Buried Treasure' Case

    i have to agree with the last two posts. that court case could set a presedence. what the lawyers have made a point is that any repair person could effectively "find" something in your home or on your property and claim it as being abandoned and take it. i think it is wrong and they should be at least prosecuted for theft. i am sure i have things in my home that i have forgetten that they are where they are, it doesn't mean that i have abandoned them. the fact that the roof was being repaired is enough proof that the barn and contents were not abandoned.

    just my opinion

  10. #9
    us
    Beep beep 'm beep beep Yeah

    Dec 2004
    Brentwood, NH
    White's Classic SL White's Surf P.I.
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    Re: Charges Dismissed in 'Buried Treasure' Case

    I completely agree. Yes, the temptation would be huge... I'd have tried to make a deal with the property owner, I think . Coincidentally, several years back my folks had roofers strip out the copper lining out of an 7 foot square water resevoir in their attic (from back when the house had gravity fed plumbing). They knew my folks were away, but didn't count on me stopping by to see how things were going. Now, my folks were long-since too old to get up to the attic to know that copper was there, but I don't think it was "lost". (yes, I realize this is not exactly the same scenario) But the roofing company took $1500 off the bill to avert legal action, so my folks were happy enough.
    Former Caveman... my brain shrunk.

  11. #10
    us
    Feb 2006
    New Hampshire - USA
    Fisher CZ21, Teknetics T2 & Minelab Sovereign GT
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    Re: Charges Dismissed in 'Buried Treasure' Case

    Keep in mind as well that these roofers who discovered the cache of money got together at another guys house and spent time working up a "story" of how they dug it up in their backyard. Why would they go through the effort of doing that if they truly believed they had every right to the stuff? They knew as well as everyone else that they didn't have 100% rights to what they found. In an ideal world, they would have approached the owner who hired them to do the job and would have split the finds 50:50, but then again, this is the real world and as soon as something like this is found, greed sets in on every side.

    I think in a way, a case decision like this could hurt our hobby more than help it. All it does is make people even more wary of someone who asks permission to use a metal detector on their property. In their minds, even if there is a written agreement to share anything found, what's to stop the person with the metal detector of pocketing the very best things and never telling the owner?

    Personally I think these guys are lucky the judge threw out the case of theft against them.
    "There is no getting away from a treasure that once fastens upon your mind" - Joseph Conrad (Nostromo)

  12. #11

    Apr 2005
    colorado
    850
    1 times
    Honorable Mentions (1)

    Re: Charges Dismissed in 'Buried Treasure' Case

    Lose lip's sink ship's LOL. And don't tell youe EX either
    http://www.9news.com/acm_news.aspx?O...7-c589c01ca7bf
    Specialized Tracking, Searches, Research, Huge Treasure library.
    CZ-20  Arc-geo logger  Garret's  Tessoro's  magnetometer  Spectral Analysis
    Bloodhound tracking  Helicopter services Photography etc.

  13. #12

    Apr 2005
    Colorado Springs, CO
    420
    1 times

    Re: Charges Dismissed in 'Buried Treasure' Case

    dano,

    I actually read that article last night on the 9news site.

    Hell hath no fury like a woman scorned.

    Clad ain't bad but silver's better!

  14. #13

    Jan 2004
    NY
    4

    Re: Charges Dismissed in 'Buried Treasure' Case

    These guys didn't know weather the property owner knew about the money when they removed it from the barn. The fact that they fabricated a story shows that they knew they were in the wrong. Under no circumstances should they be given the money.

  15. #14

    Apr 2005
    colorado
    850
    1 times
    Honorable Mentions (1)

    Re: Charges Dismissed in 'Buried Treasure' Case

    It doesn's do any good to fabricate a story if you don't stick to it LOL.
    I think the real reason they got off is the owner couldn't prove it was his.
    Specialized Tracking, Searches, Research, Huge Treasure library.
    CZ-20  Arc-geo logger  Garret's  Tessoro's  magnetometer  Spectral Analysis
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  16. #15

    Feb 2004
    27

    Re: Charges Dismissed in 'Buried Treasure' Case

    The finders-keepers law is still on the books in many states, probably because most states havent had to deal with it in 100 years or so. But it has been overturned in a court of law several times since then. I read the article on Jan Wenner who is the owner of Rolling Stone Magazine, he hired two men to make a driveway in his Utah home, they found a jar of gold coins from 100 years or so ago.. the exact dates I dont remember. They kept it and then had second thoughts and gave them to Wenner, the guy who actualy found them then filed suit claiming the coins should be his. Wenner had offered a reward but the men had refused it. In court the " Law of Treasure Trove" that is on the books was thrown out and Wenner was awarded the coins and the two men got nothing. Years ago I read this law in a local law library: Finder acquires all rights to found treasure, property owner acquires no rights based upon his ownership of the soil." This may not be verbatim, it has been a while since I read it. But from the beginning the law has been foggy, for one thing finder would need permission to be searching on the owners land in the first place, if that permission had been granted then they have a legal entitlement to found treasure... if not then its just looting more or less. Anyone who is interested in reading that article I believe it was titled " The Slow Death of Treasure Trove".

  17. #16

    Apr 2005
    Colorado Springs, CO
    420
    1 times

    Re: Charges Dismissed in 'Buried Treasure' Case

    That is an interesting article, serpent. I found it on line and will post it below.

    ================================================== =======

    The Slow Death of Treasure Trove February 7, 2000
    by Richard B. Cunningham

    A cache of gold coins found on Rolling Stone magazine owner Jann Wenner's property has sparked a treasure trove claim against the publisher. (Reuters/Corbis-Bettmann)

    The Idaho Supreme Court will soon hear a dispute pitting media mogul Jann Wenner, the owner of Rolling Stone magazine, against Gregory Corliss, a construction worker who discovered a cache of gold coins buried on Wenner's land near the Sun Valley resort area. Corliss made his claim based on the ancient common law rule of treasure trove, which awards title of an artifact to the finder, be he looter or archaeologist. Last January an Idaho trial court rejected Corliss' claim, thus joining the other late-twentieth-century courts that have declined to apply the rule. In some American states, however, the law is still recognized. Why should modern American courts continue to be haunted by an outdated and misunderstood law that Great Britain abolished in 1996? The answer involves some arcane but important aspects of archaeological jurisprudence.

    Cases involving finders of hidden property are seldom simple; there are usually numerous parties and interests involved. Corliss and his employer, Larry Anderson, were excavating soil while under contract to construct a driveway on Wenner's land. Corliss was the first to notice the freshly exposed coins, and further digging by both men revealed a broken jar that had contained a stash of 96 American gold coins dating between 1857 and 1914. By agreement between the two men, Anderson retained the coins, but eventually thought better of their actions and turned the gold over to Wenner, who promptly took the coins to his home in New York. Corliss then demanded their return, asserting his title to the coins under treasure trove theory. The image of simple workmen arrayed against a wealthy landowner is unflattering; Wenner wisely offered the men a reward, which both declined, and Corliss then pressed his claim against both his employer and Wenner. As with most accidentally discovered artifacts, the history and original ownership of the coins is obscure, and necessarily speculative. They clearly were buried sometime after the 1914 date on the latest coin, probably by some occupant of Broadford, a mining town once situated on Wenner's land. Throughout the intervening years, none of the previous owners of the land appeared to have been aware of the deposit, and none came forward to assert a claim.

    The uncertainty of the facts in finder's cases is compounded by the complexity of the law. Any discussion of finders' law forces courts to confront not only the rules of treasure trove, but also a variety of other judicial doctrines relating to articles that have been not deliberately buried, but either abandoned, lost, mislaid, or embedded on private land. Classic treasure trove law in Britain applied only to items of gold or silver. The rule thus has no bearing on the organic, lithic, or ceramic artifacts that prevail in American archaeology. But old gold coins, as in the Corliss-Wenner dispute, unquestionably satisfy the rule and for most people represent the very essence of a treasure. The classic rule also required the treasure to have been intentionally concealed; here again, because the coins were discovered in paper wrappers and buried in a glass jar, there was clear evidence of their deliberate deposit with an intent eventually to retrieve them. A cache discovered under these circumstances could not be categorized as casually lost nor purposefully abandoned. Superficially, then, the Idaho facts appear to present a clear opportunity to apply the rule of treasure trove.

    Are American states bound to honor the ancient rule of treasure trove? In 1863 the legislature of Idaho, like many western states, decided to employ "the common law of England...as the rule of decision in all courts of this state." Statutes of that kind, known as reception statutes, reflect that citizens received the common law of England as part of their collective heritage, either at the time of American independence, the moment of statehood, or some other operative event. The English common law from the 1760s until the 1880s was unequivocal: Treasure trove went to the Crown. For most states, the question thus became whether simply to reject the received English royal prerogative as inconsistent with their legal systems, or instead to consider adoption of the adulterated form of the rule that rewarded finders as it developed in a minority of American courts between 1904 and 1948.

    The treasure trove rule received its first serious consideration by Oregon's Supreme Court in 1904 in a case involving boys who discovered thousands of dollars in gold coins hidden in metal cans while cleaning out a henhouse. Unwilling to identify coins in such circumstances as lost and seizing on the image of gold as treasure, the court awarded the coins to the boys. The landowners, who had been less than generous with the boys, received nothing. Of course, the British law on which the U.S. version was based would have handed the coins over to the king. Dating to early twelfth-century England, treasure trove was one of many royal prerogatives. In those feudal times, the king's claim to discovered articles of precious metal was absolute and preempted any claim by the article's finder or the owner of the land on which it was discovered. The Oregon court simply misunderstood the rule, wrongly believing that it operated in the same fashion as the early rules that awarded possession (and thus the effective equivalent of title) to the innocent finders of lost and ownerless items. In awarding ownership of the coins to the boys, the Oregon court unwittingly became the first to imply that buried valuables should be awarded categorically to a finder, thus disregarding entirely any legitimate claims made by the landowner.

    Four years later, Maine's Supreme Court completed the process of confusing the application of treasure trove law. The facts are eerily similar to the recent Idaho case: three workers jointly found gold coins while excavating on their employer's land. Although a series of English and American cases had already established a landowner's claim to buried valuables, the court awarded the coins to the finders, and for the next three decades the American rules remained in considerable confusion. During that period only a few courts opted for the treasure trove formulation; at one time or another the courts of Georgia, Indiana, Iowa, Ohio, and Wisconsin employed the rule, most recently in 1948. Since then, all the American courts to consider the problem, the Idaho trial court among them, have declined to adopt treasure trove rationales, finding instead that other rules are better suited to a resolution of modern controveries. Unfortunately, the rule of treasure trove persists, still described in contemporary legal texts as a recognized, if not controlling, rule of decision. At best, however, it is a minority rule of dubious heritage that was misunderstood and misapplied in a few states between 1904 and 1948.

    The majority of U.S. courts now follow a mislaid rule for buried objects, which posits that items purposely deposited should be protected until the original depositor can return. The preferable way to protect them is to allow the items to remain in the custody of the landowner on whose property they were discovered. It's a convenient rationale, arguably well designed to assure the best chance to reunite owners with their recently "misplaced" goods. In the context of old artifacts, however, it effectively delivers title to the landowner. The "mislaid" rationale presumes the existence of a living owner, or the vigilance of the depositor's descendants; only occasionally can it be helpful for older artifacts, such as those in Idaho, as the likelihood of the original depositor's return diminishes with each passing year. For artifacts of prehistoric age, the mislaid rule makes no sense, and is thus of little assistance in the vast majority of archaeological applications.

    What rule should be employed by modern courts when faced with conflicting finder-landowner claims to ancient artifacts that are discovered buried on private land? The Idaho trial court, in rejecting the treasure trove rule, wisely aligned itself with all the other American courts that have faced the problem in the last two decades. By rejecting treasure trove and similar finder's rationales, those courts have fostered legal policies that discourage waton trespass to real property, and give protection to a landowner's possessory claims to any artifacts that have been so embedded in the land as to become part of it. Rejection of the rules that reward finders at the expense of landowners also strengthens anti-looting provisions, and discourages casual, but potentially destructive unplanned searches. Indeed, removal of artifacts from the soil is now recognized in the majority of states either as illegal severance of chattels, trespass, or theft. Modern law has recognized and resolved the problem, leaving no room for royal prerogatives. The old rule of treasure trove may make good theater, but it's poor law, and its death can come none too soon.

    Richard B. Cunningham is a professor of law at the University of California, Hastings College of the Law, in San Francisco.
    Clad ain't bad but silver's better!

  18. #17
    us
    Beep beep 'm beep beep Yeah

    Dec 2004
    Brentwood, NH
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    Re: Charges Dismissed in 'Buried Treasure' Case

    Klaatu, thanks for finding and posting that article. I delved into it thinking it was written by a newspaper reporter, but quickly realized that it was written too well for that. Very interesting stuff... thanks again. -Ben
    Former Caveman... my brain shrunk.

  19. #18

    Apr 2005
    Colorado Springs, CO
    420
    1 times

    Re: Charges Dismissed in 'Buried Treasure' Case

    Below is an article that is a good example of a lost item found by someone who knew it would not be right for him to keep it. He could have easily kept it without telling anyone and he likely could have gotten a judge to agree it was his. But he did the right thing and returned it to its rightful owner.

    Enjoy!


    ============================================

    Fla. Man Returns Missing Diamond Ring

    March 3, 2006

    BOYNTON BEACH, Fla. -- Marlene Kiraly asked her husband to hide the 3 1/2 karat, uninsured diamond ring her mother gave her just before she died 23 years ago. Problem was, he did such a good job no one could remember where it was.

    That was until John Kilcooley was renovating a bathroom in his home last month. Tucked away in a bag, behind a light fixture, Kilcooley found a 3 1/2 karat diamond ring.

    Instead of keeping it, he tracked down the home's previous owner who sold the house in 2004. His wife called Kiraly and asked if she lost something during the move.

    "She started crying and said her mother's ring," John Kilcooley said. "We could have sold the ring, but if I would have lost something or she would have lost something, we'd want somebody to track us down."

    The Kiralys unsuccessfully searched the house before they moved and have tried numerous ways to jog their memory.

    "I went to a psychic a month ago to find out where the ring is, and she said my husband hid it really well and I would find it," Kiraly, 48, of Lake Worth said.

    As a reward, the Kiralys said they would fix the Kilcooleys' hurricane-damaged outdoor screens.
    Clad ain't bad but silver's better!

  20. #19
    us
    Dec 2005
    Eugene, Oregon
    Fisher CZ5, White's GM VSat
    4,076
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    Re: Charges Dismissed in 'Buried Treasure' Case

    I gotta go with "finders keepers" on this one. Merely for precedence, if nothing else.

    Neither the homeowner nor the contractors were aware of this cache.

    If it goes in favor of the homeowner, what sort of precedence will that set?

    If you invest hundreds of hours in research, and money in equipment, and gas, and time, and labor, in finding a cache, then the property owner (whoever that may be) has the right to take it? even though they had no clue about its existance?

    I realize these guys had no clue and nothing invested, I'm just wondering how this decision will affect future cases of real treasure seekers.

  21. #20
    del

    Re: Charges Dismissed in 'Buried Treasure' Case

    You must keep in mind that these people didn't "invest hundreds of hours in research, and money in equipment, and gas, and time, and labor, in finding a cache", as you put it. The dubious ones cited in this thread were hired to do a job, not hunt treasure. If under contract to hunt, find and keep, then I would agree with you in finders-keepers. If under contract to perform any other function, be it to repair a barn or lay a driveway, then it would be wrong to keep it. Perhaps contractors of this sort could write it in to binding legal contracts that they keep what they find, and if the prospective employer doesn't agree, find a different contractor. del.

 

 
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