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'Long-Forgotten Cases' Mean Money For Hamilton County

Bill Rinehart
A giant ceremonial check represents the recovered money.

Hamilton County's general fund will receive an unanticipated $681,000 deposit. Clerk of Courts Aftab Pureval says his office and the prosecutor started working a year ago on a special project: to recoup money floating around the legal system.

"Ohio law, (Ohio Revised Code) 9.39, allows the county to go after abandoned funds that remain in the court system if no one claims them," Pureval says. The funds have to be abandoned for at least five years.

The prosecutor's office reviewed more than 220,000 cases and found 1,038 that qualified as inactive.

"We also took very seriously our notice requirements under the law. So we posted publicly in the foyer of the courthouse, also in our office, all of these cases that were eligible. No one came forward," Pureval says.

He says he'd be interested in reviewing inactive cases on "an ongoing basis," but warns the amount of money sent to the general fund is unlikely to be close to this year's total.

Hamilton County commissioners will decide how the money is spent. The county administrator's recommended 2020 general fund budget is $276,455,000.

Rinehart has been a radio reporter since 1994 with positions in markets like Omaha and Lincoln, Nebraska; Sioux City, Iowa; Dayton, Ohio; and most recently as senior correspondent and anchor for Cincinnati’s WLW-AM.