Posted 11:00 PM 8/7/2012 : Finder's keepers or false enrichment?
TUCSON - The News 4 Tucson Investigators discovered in court records a Tucson corporation received a check for $17,175.30. It wasn't supposed to receive this check but its manager deposited it anyway.
And who paid it? You, the taxpayer essentially paid for it, because the check was issued by Pima County.
The check was supposed to go to New Beginnings for Women and Children. Instead, it was sent to New Beginnings L.L.C., another company registered with the county, but according to county records was never awarded a contract.
Tom Burke, Director of the Pima County Department of Finance and Risk Management, tells us via email the mistake occurred because of the two companies' almost identical names and a simple coding mistake. Staff later caught the mistake and paid the correct company. Mr. Burke also explains this was only one occurrence out of tens of thousands of payments Pima County has issued.
So is this a case of Finders Keepers?
"If you've been unjustly enriched by receiving property or money that didn't rightfully belong to you," explains attorney Michael McGrath a private Tucson attorney specializing in financial concerns , "either the party that sent it to you, or the party who was to properly have received it, have the right to come to you and have you give up that money."
McGrath goes on to say, as consumers when there's a charge on our credit card we didn't authorize, we can expect those charges to be reversed.
"The flip side of the coin is though; the law also provides a remedy if we take something that we're not entitled to. They're going to be able to get that property and money back from us."
Court records identify the man who deposited the check as George Rushing. The Investigators paid him a visit. Mr. Rushing told us he worked it out with the county but declined to an on camera interview.
The county says Mr. Rushing did enter an agreement to repay but failed to make any payments. A default judgment was filed for even more money and the county will attempt to collect on the judgment. In the judgment, the county is now seeking over $18,000.
"That could easily increase to several thousand dollars more in accrual of interest and collections fees," says McGrath.
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