FAIRFIELD — California law is not finders-keepers, as 19-year-old Fairfield resident Daniel W. Holochuck and his parents were reminded Tuesday afternoon.
Holochuck had the misfortune of finding an envelope full of cash lying on the ground on the afternoon of April 13, 2012. He was with a buddy, walking through the food court of the Costco store off of Business Center Drive. The pair kicked the envelope back and forth a few times, soccer style, as they made their way toward the store’s exit.
Store video surveillance cameras recorded the playful exchange and cameras also recorded them picking up the envelope and looking inside to see what it contained.
“They looked like kids on Christmas morning,” a Costco stocking clerk said acidly while testifying Tuesday at the felony probable cause hearing for Holochuck.
On the books in California since 1872 is Penal Code 485: Appropriation of lost property with knowledge or means of inquiry as to the true owner.
The clerk had already testified about his trip to the bank the previous day, where he withdrew $1,900, put it in a bank envelope along with a transaction receipt and started carrying the envelope with him lest it be taken from his car or home.
He also described his frantic search through the store for the envelope once he realized it was no longer in his pants pocket and enlisting store managers and security to review surveillance video, which revealed the envelope had fallen out of the clerk’s pocket while he was at the food court.
Now, more than a year and a half later after allegedly deciding not to try to be a good Samaritan, Holochuck faces the possibility of being branded a felon, being locked up for a year and being ordered to pay the store clerk $1,900.
Judge Donna Stashyn said it did not matter that the video showed it was Holochuck’s friend who had pocketed the envelope as they walked out of the store. Whether he got any of the cash and whether the clerk got any of his cash back were not revealed at the hearing.
Stashyn ordered Holochuck back to court Sept. 30, when he will be arraigned and dates for a jury trial may be scheduled.
Reach Jess Sullivan at 427-6919 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter at www.twitter.com/jsullivandr.