Junk dealer Leo Guarente found $114,000 while cleaning the home of a recently deceased woman, but though the owner of the Junk Depot could have pocketed the findings he had a different purpose in mind.
What the junk dealer found was actually $114,000 in savings bonds that had been stashed away in a hope chest that had belonged to Massachusetts woman Maria Veloso’s mother. For Leo Guarante the decision was easy — he would give it back to her family.
“I sleep well at night,” Guarente told the Boston Globe.
Leo Guarente was hired to clean out the home in Saugus after her death, and part of the clean-up included a locked chest. When his crew arrived at their next job, they took a sledgehammer to the chest and the junk dealer found $114,000 inside.
“It looked like thousands of dollars,” he said, noting that the unsigned bonds were stamped by the Charlestown Savings Bank in 1972. The bonds had a face value of just $20,000, but with accrued interest had reached a value of $114,000.
“I could’ve used that $114,000 just like anyone else,” Guarente said in a telephone interview. “I haven’t been on vacation in 10 years. But I did not think for one minute that I was going to keep that money.”
The $114,000 wasn’t the only thing the junk dealer found. He also returned a gold watch made by the Waltham Watch Co. in 1854 that had belonged to Maria’s late grandfather, Guarente said.
“To hold a piece of history and knowing that you saved it from the dump and that you returned it to the rightful owner, I have no words,” he said.
When it came time to return the money, Leo Gaurente showed up with a film crew to document the occasion.
The junk dealer’s $114,000 find will have some benefit to him, however. Leo Guarente to be filming an episode that day for Trash to Cash, a proposed reality show about his business. The video, which has gone viral on sites like ANDPOP and Reddit just earned him a lot of free publicity.