(WSVN) - A fight over a fortune in rare gold coins is likely to end up in court. At the center of the battle are law enforcement, a handyman and the owners of a notorious gangster’s home. Jeff Lennox has more on the search for “The Truth About the Treasure.”
Everyone dreams about striking gold.
Jessie Warren: “I’ve always been praying for something like that to happen, because I’ve always been poor.”
A year ago, Jessie Warren had no job and no money to buy food for his daughter. He hung out at Home Improvement stores trying to get day labor jobs.
Jessie Warren: “We went to do a demolition job, and it paid $80 a day.”
Jessie says a contractor hired him to tear out a kitchen at a Sunny Isles condo.
Jessie Warren: “I was hitting with the sledgehammer, and I see the envelope, and I grab the envelope, and it was [filled] with gold coins.”
He found several envelopes containing more than 100 gold coins. He didn’t know it then, but the coins were South African Krugerrands worth about $130,000.
Jessie says he wanted to tell the contractor about his discovery.
Jessie Warren: “The person who hired me, he didn’t come back, and then he hired another laborer to pick it up from work, so I had no one to turn it in to.”
He took the coins to pawn shops, where he sold a couple for a few hundred dollars, but at one coin shop, Jessie said the man explained their worth and made him an offer.
Jessie Warren: “The coin collector said he was going to write me a check for $100,000. I struck gold!”
But the Broward Sheriff’s Office was tipped off, and deputies came to the shop while Jessie was there.
Jessie Warren: “They put the handcuffs on me, went in my pocket and took everything.”
The police report says Jessie was detained “because of his extensive criminal history,” which includes time in prison for burglary. It also says Jessie made “evasive statements on where he got the coins.”
But they released him without charges.
James Lewis: “No, he hasn’t been charged with any crime, nor do I think that he’s committed any crime.”
Jessie hired attorney James Lewis. He says, since BSO hasn’t been able to find the owner of the coins, they should be returned to Jessie.
James Lewis: “I think God blessed him that day and gave him for a reason, but unfortunately, the Broward Sheriff’s Office does not see it that way.”
They are going public with the story in hopes of proving the coins came from that condo wall.
James Lewis: “How did these coins get behind that wall? Who put them there, and why? And maybe somebody out there that is watching this can tell us.”
One person has come forward: the attorney for the people who bought the Miami Beach home where Colombian drug lord Pablo Escobar once lived.
He sent BSO a letter saying they have a “well-founded belief” the coins were taken from their home when it was vandalized late last year.
Jessie Warren: “How can you say it came out of there when you never saw what was in the safe?”
Lewis says Jessie was nowhere near Escobar’s home, and it’s time for the Sheriff’s Department to return the coins.
James Lewis: “For a lack of better legal term, it’s losers weepers, finders keepers.”
The Broward Sheriff’s Office says taking something that is not yours without permission is theft. Looks like it might be up to a judge to decide the truth about the treasure.
Since it appears no resolution has been agreed upon, this case could soon go to a judge.
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