By Joy Bergmann
Richard Taverna had finished with his usual workout at the YMCA and was headed back home to 107th Street when he noticed the blue Chanel purse sitting against the wall of the northbound 1 train platform at 66th and Broadway around 11:30 on Thursday morning.
“I picked it up and had a quick look to see if there was any identification with it,” the retiree, 63, tells WSR. “I just saw a piece of paper with some Russian writing on it.” Knowing there’s not an MTA agent posted on that side of the station, he popped the purse in his gym bag, planning to investigate further or perhaps bring it to the southbound platform agent the next morning.
“Then I got tied up and forgot about it until I was getting ready for bed.” Taverna pulled out the purse and discovered that the piece of paper was actually an envelope containing 100 100-dollar bills. He told his wife he needed to go the police with the money. She quipped – noting the Russian script – that maybe Robert Mueller should be his first call.
Taverna took the purse and its contents to the 20th Precinct on Friday morning, but not before taking a snapshot of the greenbacks laid out on his kitchen table.
Was he tempted to keep the cash?
Nah. “I think most people would’ve returned it,” he says.
What was the NYPD’s reaction?
“I dare call it a Christmas miracle,” says Capt. Timothy Malin, commanding officer of the 20th. “The cops in the precinct couldn’t think higher of this guy.”
Turns out, a woman headed to Russia had reported the missing money to transit police right around the same time Taverna discovered it.
“We’re looking forward to telling her when she’s back in January,” says Malin. “It will be a nice surprise.”