The City of Bastrop had every right to keep the roughly $77,000 that Timothy Yost, a homeless man, found in Fisherman's Park in January.
It could have easily been the property of one of the inhabitants of the approximately 1,600 homes lost in the wildfires that swept through the area last year during Labor Day weekend. And the money could go a long way in reconstruction efforts. But since no one claimed the loot—and probably because Bastrop can sympathize with someone who has fallen on hard times—the city council on Tuesday decided that Yost, 46, could keep his find, Fox 7 Austin reported.
"It means everything to him," said Aleta Peacock, Yost's attorney. "He has a whole future ahead of him."
Yost was unavailable for comment following the decision because he was in the Bastrop County Jail on counts of criminal trespassing and public intoxication. He was released Thursday morning after posting $6,500 in bail.
Last month, Fox 7 asked Yost what he planned to do with the money should it be awarded to him. "I've been walking for so long, the first thing I want is a vehicle," Yost said.
He added: "You ever eat out of a garbage can? Have you ever begged for somebody else's clothes? You ever freeze to death in the middle of the night?"
According to the Bastrop Advertiser , Yost said God directed him from Florida to Texas to find a wife. On that fortuitous day in January, Yost was washing his feet in the Colorado River when he saw a plastic bag containing seventy $100 bills and forty South African "Krugerrand" gold coins, valued at about $1,600 each.
Yost took the money to a local bank, hoping to exchange the wet bills for dry ones. The teller grew suspicious and called the police.
"The [police] chief, who has served with departments across the state in his 41 years in law enforcement, says he's never seen the likes of it—so much money," the Los Angeles Times reported.
The police confiscated the money and gave Yost a receipt, while they checked with the FBI to make sure it wasn't affiliated with a crime. It wasn't. So then the police placed two required notices in the Advertiser. Some people came forth, but no one officially claimed the money.
The city—perhaps hoping for some good karma—decided to give the money to Yost, even though the Texas "finders keepers" law says they have the right to it as owner of the property on which it was found.
"Not many people have that opportunity to turn their life around," said Terry Orr, Bastrop mayor. "We offer our best wishes to Mr. Yost and good luck to him."