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O.C. Giving Away Cash Until June 3

The treasurer is trying to distribute $426,000 in unclaimed awards and deposits dating back decades. The county will keep what's left.

May 18, 2003|Stuart Pfeifer | Times Staff Writer

A man whose car was damaged by a reckless driver can claim a long-forgotten $487 restitution payment. A home development company might get back a $100,000 deposit it posted years ago during a legal dispute. The 7-Eleven company is owed exactly $1,007.11.

They can claim the money, if they act quickly.

Orange County's treasurer is trying to unload $426,000 from a collection of deposits, refunds and court awards dating back as far as 30 years. The funds are due consumers from a variety of agencies in the county -- everything from child support collections and crime victim restitution to small-claims court judgments.

Treasurer-Tax Collector John M. W. Moorlach is holding the cash until June 3, when he has the right to shift it into the county's general fund.

Even at a time of fiscal crisis, Moorlach is taking extra steps to distribute the money. He's advertised in a local newspaper and added the names of the 1,398 people and businesses that are due refunds to his Web site.

"We want to give them the money," Moorlach said.

Most people will never find out about the money they could have claimed. The treasurer's newspaper advertisements have generated only a handful of requests. William McCulley had no idea his name was on the list until The Times called last week. He's owed $487.51 that the county Probation Department collected from the person who stole his daughter's car and damaged it.

"I'll probably give the money to her," McCulley said. "She needs the money. She just graduated from college."

Also on the list was the Southland Corp., now 7-Eleven Inc., which has a $1,007.11 payment coming. Even though that amount is a fraction of the company's revenue -- 7-Eleven reported $897 million in sales in April -- it plans to apply for its refund, a spokeswoman said.

"That can buy a lot of Slurpees," said Margaret Chabris, a 7-Eleven spokeswoman. "But we are going to put it into our general fund."

For Carma Developers, the windfall could be much larger. The Canadian builder was involved in major development projects in Orange County in the 1980s. It is now based in Calgary, Alberta.

Moorlach is holding on to more than $102,000 that Carma could claim. The builder posted the money as a deposit in a court case years ago and did not collect the refund when the case was dismissed, according to an opinion written by Orange County's legal counsel.

Karen Leeds, the company's senior vice president of finance, said she will investigate whether Carma can collect the money.

Others who are owed money may never be found -- or may have a difficult time proving their identity.

One character who identified himself to an Orange County court as "I.M. Sorry" is owed a $1,100 refund.

Another guy, simply named "Wayne," has $200 coming to him.

Mr. Sorry and anyone else interested in checking whether they qualify for a refund can find out at the treasurer's Web site, www.oc.ca.gov/treas/ or call (714) 834-4619.

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(BEGIN TEXT OF INFOBOX)

Due a check?

More than $400,000 in unclaimed deposits, refunds and court awards sits in an Orange County fund. The money could be transferred into the general fund on June 3 if no one claims it. A list of those qualifying for a refund is available at www.oc.ca.gov/treas/ or (714)834-4619.

Unclaimed refund accounts with $1,000 or more:

*--* Claimant Agency Amount* Carma Developers Treasurer Trust Fund $101,144.51 California Gene J. Goldsman Central Justice Center $75,300.00 Arbitration Fees William B. & Carol A. West J C Trust Fund $16,848.44 Snyder Spradling Sheriff-Coroner Dept $7,000.00 David Shepard Central Justice Center $5,220.42 Civil/Small Claims Duque Sheriff-Coroner Dept $4,745.00 Regalado Sheriff-Coroner Dept $4,000.00 Olivares Sheriff-Coroner Dept $3,908.00 Avella Sheriff-Coroner Dept $3,400.00 Duque Sheriff-Coroner Dept $3,000.00 Marino Sheriff-Coroner Dept $2,538.00 George Lawrence Foersch Sr West J C Trust Fund $2,486.16 Elvia Seaver-Martinez Superior Court $2,430.24 Sisario Sheriff-Coroner Dept $2,350.00 Duque Sheriff-Coroner Dept $2,338.00 Coin & Commercial Laundry West J C Trust Fund $2,229.14 Systems, Inc Huntington Pacific Thrift West J C Trust Fund $2,178.42 & Loan Assn Hoffman Sheriff-Coroner Dept $1,990.00 Sharon Lutes Topping West J C Trust Fund $1,928.36 Londono Sheriff-Coroner Dept $1,858.00 Flores Sheriff-Coroner Dept $1,824.10 Carma Developers Treasurer Trust Fund $1,800.24 California Loomis Sheriff-Coroner Dept $1,605.00 Limon Sheriff-Coroner Dept $1,600.00 Montgomery Ward Credit Central Justice Center $1,493.41 Corp Civil/Small Claims Florence Robinson Probation/Adult Restitution $1,462.54 MARN Ray Newton Auto Body West J C Trust Fund $1,377.78 Owens Sheriff-Coroner Dept $1,311.00 Salgadd Sheriff-Coroner Dept $1,269.00 Soria Sheriff-Coroner Dept $1,210.00 Sorry, I.M County of Orange $1,163.50 Southland Corp County of Orange $1,007.11 Access Transmission Public Facilities & $1,000.00 Services Resources Dept Ford Sheriff-Coroner Dept $1,000.00

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Source: County of Orange

* Single amount shown. Some claimants may have more than one refund due.

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