A Real Honest Joe

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    NEWSLETTERS

    He's literally one honest Joe. (Published Friday, Nov 5, 2010)

    What would you do if you stumbled on a bag full of money and jewelry at the edge of the woods and no owner in sight?

    If it was yours, you'd hope the finder would do what Joe Monto did -- he i literally a real Honest Joe.

    Monto had just left his home in Ringwood New Jersey and was driving along Skyline Drive en route to a local Chinese restaurant when he spotted a bright blue backpack sitting at the edge of the woods.

    "I figured it belonged to a hiker or someone who'd been out in the woods. I know how I hate to lose my wallet, so I figured let me call somebody and give them back their stuff."

    Well, the "stuff" in that backpack wasn't a bunch of books and granola bars -- it was stuffed with jewelry and about $5,000 in cash.

    "I was like, oh my God, what did somebody leave out here?" said Monto.

    Too nervous to eat, Joe and his wife Ilma took the bag home and he started going through the papers inside and he found a notebook.

    "It had all these GPS coordinates in it and like codes and symbols and letters and I was like, 'Oh my gosh, I hope this wasn't some terrorist bag!' " said Monto.

    The woman who owned it was no terrorist, but a regular "geo-cacher": a global, high-tech hunting game where people use GPS to find hidden treasure all over the globe. She'd been in town helping her parents move and decided to do a little geo-caching while she was here, only this time, she lost the treasure. She was lucky Joe was the one who found it.

    "In these tough economic times, somebody else might not have returned it," says his wife Ilma. "My husband is an honorable man. I knew he would do the right thing."

    He rifled through the paperwork in the backpack until he found a phone number for a relative who contacted the owner. Joe returned it to her some three hours later.

    "She said the money was one thing, but it was the jewelry she was worried about. Money comes and goes, but the jewelry belonged to her mother and her grandmother and she probably wanted to keep it for her kids, now she'll be able to do that."

    And this young dad, a substation maintenance worker with PSE&G, will be able to finish insulating the nursery for his second baby (due in March) with the $1,000 reward.

    He says the money is nice, but you can't put a price tag on this: "It's nice to be known as somebody who does a nice thing. You  can't get ask for more than that."