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SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA / A news summary

Man Who Rescued Oscars Receives $50,000 Reward

March 24, 2000

LOS ANGELES — The 61-year-old junkman who rescued 52 stolen Oscars from a Koreatown trash heap was given a $50,000 reward Thursday from the shipping company that lost the statuettes.

"If anybody says honesty don't pay, send them to me," Willie Fulgear said during the presentation outside police headquarters. "I'm a poor man and I stumbled across, I guess, gold. And I gave it back."

Fulgear rolled his eyes when police Cmdr. David Kalish called him "a local hero."

"I didn't save anybody's life," Fulgear said. "But wait, yes I did--Oscar's."

A week ago, he made a living salvaging discarded machine parts. Now he hopes his "golden" find will get him a book contract or a movie about his life.

"This has really turned things around for me," he said earlier at his one-room apartment about a block from the parking lot where he found the missing Oscars.

Fulgear said he'd like to use the money from Roadway Express to make a down payment on a home for his son.

A Roadway truck driver has been charged with stealing 55 Oscar statuettes from a warehouse March 8. Three of the figures remain unaccounted for.

The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences invited Fulgear to the awards show.

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