There is nothing that causes people to disregard honesty and integrity as quickly as greed.  Case in point:

There aren’t many secrets in a place like Gaffney, S.C.  So when two heating and air conditioning workers suddenly quit their jobs and began buying things like a big screen TV, a used car, and a riding lawn mower with $100 bills so old they didn’t even have the off-center portrait of Benjamin Franklin, people started talking.

Police said that eventually word got back to Lois Brown, who had hired those men a few days earlier and made them a deal.  She told the workers that just before her husband died seven years ago, he said he had hidden thousands of dollars in the basement.  Her family had never found the money.

If the workers discovered the cash, Brown said, they would be in for a big reward.

After hearing about their free-spending ways, Brown went to Joey Reed and Elie Spencer and made an offer.  Keep what they bought and a bit more money for themselves, give the rest back to her, and she wouldn’t go to police.  They played dumb, and the law got involved.

Now the men are facing grand larceny charges, accused of taking the $100,000.  Brown has also sued the owner of the company they once worked for to get her money back.  She hasn’t received any of the cash from the two workers, who are accused of stealing the money.  They quit their jobs the day after they found the money and it appears that they didn’t waste any time spending it.

The story begins with a repair job at the large, white, two-story farmhouse with the wraparound porch that Brown shared with her husband for decades before he died.  He founded a business that sold small crane games, arcade games and other amusement devices.  He also was in real estate and kept large amounts of cash around.  After Brown’s husband died in 2003, his family searched for the cash he claimed to have hidden in the basement.

Each time someone came to work at the old house, Brown offered a nice reward if the workers found the money.  It was the same offer she made to Reed and Spencer in September 2010, but they left the three-day job without telling her anything.

The spending spree started a few days later.  Spencer had the underpinning of his mobile home secured with bricks. Reed bought a $1,800 television, a $1,800 riding lawn mower and a $7,500 used car for his girlfriend.  All of the purchases were made with crisp $100 bills, printed prior to the 1996 redesign of the off-center Benjamin Franklin on the front that the American people have become accustom to seeing.

The amount of money being spent in Gaffney, a city of about 12,000 people, by these two individuals, led folks to start asking questions.  One of the in-laws of the men heard how the workers got the money and told Brown about it.

After the men refused Brown’s offer to not get the law involved if she got some of the money back, she called the police. Detectives tracked down the worker who spruced up Spencer’s mobile home and he still had the old $100 bills.

Spencer, 47, and Reed, 50, are charged with grand larceny and are awaiting trial.  If convicted, they face up to 10 years in prison.

In September, Brown sued Dean Painter, owner of Painter Heating & Air Conditioning, which hired the workers.  Her lawsuit said Painter should have made sure his employees were properly supervised so they didn’t steal from her.  The suit asks for $100,000.

Meanwhile, Reed’s lawyer asked for a preliminary hearing, telling a judge the charge should be dropped because authorities can’t prove the money was taken from Brown’s home or even that it ever existed.  The judge has allowed the case to continue, and the prosecution believes they have a strong case, adding, “We’ve got documents and proof they spent it like crazy.”

Lois Brown is way too trusting and the moral of this story is why would you make an offer like that to two strangers and also, not keep visual tabs on people, who are in your home.  Allowing persons to be in your home unsupervised is just asking for trouble and greed has a strong effect on people, especially when it’s $ 100, 000.

 

Advertisements