Server returns bag with $32,000 left at California Applebee’s

FRESNO, Calif. (WCMH)–Erika and Bertha Gonzalez walked into the Fresno Police Department to find the treasure they figured no one would ever return–$32,000 in cash.

They had accidentally left it in a booth at an Applebee’s on Wednesday night, KSFN reports.

A server at the restaurant found it and turned it in to the police. He said he wants to remain anonymous, and told his managers he just did the right thing.

The mother-daughter pair made several stops on Wednesday, including a bank. They say they didn’t originally plan on carrying the money all day. The cash is savings from the family’s businesses — including rental properties and a Bay Area restaurant.

“We were going to deposit it to the safe box and they told us they didn’t have any available,” Erika said.

Wednesday night, they realized the cash was missing.

“I didn’t know how to tell my dad,” Erika told KSFN.

Detective Sammy Ashworth was the first to learn about the money, and got a call from the family later that day.

“They described the bag that it was in and the denomination, and I determined that, yes, it was their money,” Ashworth said. “It was legally obtained, and they were just an average working family that had made a mistake and left their money behind in a restaurant.”

The server who waited on the family and found the money didn’t want to talk about his good deed. In fact, his managers aren’t even sure he’ll take a reward from the company or the Gonzalez family.

“I don’t know that he would accept it honestly,” Applebee’s area director Carrie Hellyer told KSFN. “He’s just not that guy. He made it very clear that he did it because it was the right thing to do, not that he wanted anything in return.”

There are no surveillance cameras in the area where the family was seated. Applebee’s says that’s all the more reason this employee’s integrity is remarkable.

“That’s a lot of money,” Hellyer said. “That’s more than a years salary for many of our employees and to have the knee-jerk immediate reaction to be ‘let’s find a way to get this back to who it belongs to,’ I’m very fortunate.”

The family said they hope the server will accept at least a little something as a reward.

“I am so glad they found it,” Erika said to KSFN. “I really appreciate it.”

“I told them their next stop had better be the bank,” Ashworth said. “Or at least somewhere safe where that money can be stored.” provides commenting to allow for constructive discussion on the stories we cover. In order to comment here, you acknowledge you have read and agreed to our Terms of Service. Commenters who violate these terms, including use of vulgar language or racial slurs, will be banned. Please be respectful of the opinions of others and keep the conversation on topic and civil. If you see an inappropriate comment, please flag it for our moderators to review.

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