One Riverhead man still can't believe his good luck.
Matthew Freudenberg, 56, tossed a brown paper bag containing $3,000 cash into the trash yesterday and got it back, even after the garbage truck dumped its contents at the sanitation company plant.
Freudenberg, a nurse who said he has a concession business on the side, was going to bring the cash to the bank to make a mortgage payment yesterday morning, but accidentally shoved the bag containing the money into a garbage bag in his car. He then put the garbage bag in the trash can. Maggio Sanitation, Riverhead's garbage contractor, picked up his trash and hauled it away.
It wasn't until a little while later, while he was taking a shower, that Freudenberg realized what he'd done. He panicked. Not knowing who takes the trash away, he went out looking for a garbage truck. He found one, but not the right one. The driver of that truck made a phone call and found out the company's name.
"When I called, at first they said they didn't know if I could go look through the garbage there, because it was against regulations," Freudenberg said. Then, a secretary called him back and told him to come down to Maggio's Yaphank facility. The company took the truck off its route and brought it back to the facility so that its contents could be sifted through for the cash.
"When I saw the amount of garbage there, I thought there was no way we were ever going to find it," Fruedenberg said. Maggio employees began picking through the mountain of trash with him, searching for the small brown paper bag.
"It was just unbelievable," Freudenberg said of the find. "I was amazed." Maggio employee Rafael Varela spotted the bag.
"He could have easily put his foot on it and hid it from me and kept it," Freudenberg said. "The honesty…the integrity…It's just so nice to see."
"I like to help people," Varela said.
Company principal John Maggio said discovering the bag was "like finding a needle in a haystack." They've recovered other items for people in the past, such as engagement rings, wallets and, yes, money, too. "But never this much in one lump sum," Maggio said.
Correction: The original article published Sept. 21, 2010 incorrectly stated the amount of money contained in the bag. It was $3,000, not $4,000.