When 15-year-old Ashley Donaldson found $2,000 on a Dallas street and turned it over to authorities, she thought she’d be rewarded for her honesty. But a new city policy has prevented her from pocketing the unclaimed cash, prompting an outcry from the community.
In fact, rather than reward the girl, the city policy calls for the money to be treated like contraband -- and added to the municipal coffers.
But under pressure from the public, Dallas police appear to be having a change of heart, saying the girl will likely be given the money she found if the owner doesn’t step forward.
“Assuming the rightful owner doesn’t come forward, I think there’s a very good chance she will be awarded the money,” Lt. Chess Williams, spokesman with the Dallas Police Department, told FoxNews.com.
Donaldson found the money Feb. 19 in a Dallas parking lot not far from a Chase Bank. The teen quickly turned the wad of cash over to the bank which then gave the money to the Dallas Police Department after it could not identify the owner.
Donaldson said she initially was told she could keep the money if the owner was not found within a month, according to local press reports. But then police informed her three months later that under a new policy, the money had to go to the city instead.
“That may have been told to her but under existing policy, that would have been an error,” Williams explained. He said the policy was changed in 2009 so that unclaimed money would go directly to the city’s general fund if the owner was not found.
Williams said money claimed by the city is not taken for a “sinister purpose,” but rather deposited into the city’s general fund and used for the good of the community – like buying new fire hoses or books for the library.
“I think that point is lost in some of these discussions,” he said.
Donaldson, a freshman at Shepton High School, was living in a one-room apartment with her parents and four siblings when she found the money. The family moved into a home in Plano two weeks ago but reportedly still faces financial difficulties.
After controversy erupted over the city’s policy, an anonymous donor came forward Wednesday to assist Donaldson and her family, rewarding the girl a $4,000 check, WFAA.com reports.
"I was completely shocked," Donaldson told the station. "I couldn't breathe. ... I was just so happy and just so amazed at how they could do that for me."
“It just really made me think of how many people would've done the opposite thing, and it made me feel even more proud of myself," she said.
Williams said Thursday the department realized the situation was “unfair” and is moving “very quickly to rectify it.”
“The process is in place now for us to process the money and make a few more efforts to try to locate the owner. If the owner doesn’t come forward, I think she will get the money,” he said. “All of us greatly admire the youngster involved. She found money that she could have easily taken without anyone knowing, and I think there’s a great lesson there for all of us.”