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17 Years Later, Man Repays Nevada City School $300 He Stole As A Student

NEVADA CITY (CBS13) — A man wracked by the guilt of robbing a school when he was 12 years old made amends with a letter and an envelope full of money.

It was 17 years ago when he broke into a classroom at Grizzly Hill Elementary School. He stole $300 that was supposed to be for a field trip.

Principal James Berardi says after break-ins, stolen items never make their way back to the small school outside of Nevada City.

“We’re out in the country, and things disappear out here, because there’s not a lot of people here,” he said.

But this last weekend, money that went missing almost 20 years ago showed up in a blue envelope with a note:

(Credit: CBS13)

(Credit: CBS13)

“In 1996 I broke into the school just before the end of the school year. I stole some money of a few classrooms (they had been saving it for a “end of year trip or party”), some confiscated items from the principals desk, and in doing this broke the latches and/or frames off a few windows. I am not exactly sure how much the damage cost to repair or how much money I stole. My best guess is about $300. I’ve enclosed this money in restitution of what I’ve done in an attempt to make this matter right, amends for my wrong.

“If there is anyone still working at the school who remembers this event and feels $300 does not cover the theft for the damage please contact me.”

Inside was $300 in $1 bills. He also left his number and deepest apologies at the end of the letter so someone could contact him.

“I hope that it gives him what he wanted, was seeking,” Berardi said. “I don’t know  if that was to lift a burden off himself, or a guilt.”

Teachers like Willow DeFranco say the letter is worth more than just the money inside, it’s also helping them teach their students valuable lessons.

“They did something wrong, and it was probably hurting their heart probably so bad and was making them feel so poor about what choices they made and they tried to make it right,” she said.

The principal called the man and thanked him for what he did. He also told him they won’t need any more money.


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