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Hagerstown man returns lost $9,000

August 04, 1997

By BRENDAN KIRBY

Staff Writer

George Poffenberger was sure his bag full of money was gone when he realized it had fallen off his rear bumper.

But when Dale Conley saw a bag drop off the truck on Burhans Boulevard, he said he never hesitated - even when he saw a thick wad of large-denomination bills inside.

"No temptation. I had no temptation because I've lived by the rule that if I didn't earn it, it's not mine and I don't want it," said Conley, a retired city police officer who lives on Jeffery Drive east of Hagerstown.

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Conley swung by the Hagerstown Police Department after finding the bag at about 8:15 p.m. Friday. After counting the money - slightly more than $9,000 - police tracked down Poffenberger.

"I figured it was gone. I figured somebody picked it up," said Poffenberger, who buys crabs for Subway Seafood Restaurant and Lounge on Burhans.

Poffenberger said he placed the money bag on the bumper and unlocked the back of his vehicle. He put a bag of food inside but forgot the money. He said he was going to drive to the Eastern Shore the next morning to buy crabs. Most of the transactions are done in cash, he said.

Conley, 52, who retired from the Hagerstown Police Department in 1990, agreed Poffenberger's chances of recovering the money weren't good.

"His chances of getting it back were probably 10 percent," he said. "I guarantee you, if most of the people I locked up over the years had found that bag, he never would have seen that money."

Since joining the police force in 1968, Conley said he has seen that dishonest people rarely live satisfying lives. Even before that, however, he said he never would have considered taking money that did not belong to him.

"I've always had those morals about me. That's the problem in this day and age," he said. "There are a lot more people out there who would be willing to keep a large amount of money like that."

Poffenberger said he gave Conley a cash reward and has offered a free meal. After he got the call from the police, that night, he counted his luck.

"I'm glad it was him and not somebody else," he said.

Conley predicted Poffenberger will be more careful about his cash in the future.

"I think he got a college education on how to handle money - and he's lucky it didn't cost him anything," he said.

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