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Nebraska man charged for spending USD 80,000 mistakenly deposited in his bank account

A man was charged with felony theft after he spent US$80,000 (EUR59,000) his bank deposited by mistake in his account.

George J. Costa, 45, is charged with theft of lost or mislaid property. It is a crime to take money that has been "delivered under a mistake."

More than US$106,000 (EUR78,000) was deposited into Costa's account between August 2006 and February after a Pinnacle Bank employee mixed up account numbers, according to the Nebraska State Patrol.

The bank was able to recover $26,000 (US$19,000) from Costa's account after the mistake was recovered.

"'Finder's keepers' and 'possession is nine-tenths of the law' aren't legal principles," said Sarpy County Attorney Lee Polikov.

Costa's lawyer, James Martin Davis, said Costa is willing to work out repayment in civil court but should not be charged criminally.

"If somebody sticks money in your pocket and you spend it, you can't be convicted of theft," he said.