After 10 months of litigation, attorneys for Fairfax County have decided to return $27,000 to Thomas Tucker, the Florida tabletop maker who said he accidentially left the money last December in a Groveton motel room bundled in a Garfinckel's shirt box.

As the county agreed to give the money back to Tucker in an out-of-court settlement yesterday. Tucker decided to give a $3,000 reward to the motel handyman who found the money Dec. 28 and turned it over to police.

Tucker sued the county police because they refused to return the money to him after the handyman Charles Black, turned in the money. The county contended Tucker had to prove the money was not illegally obtained. After Tucker filed suit against the police. Black did also, to see if he could be declared the money's lawful owner, since he found it. As part of yesterday's agreement Black has dropped his suit.

Tucker, 24, said he got the money a day after Christmas last year when an old high school chum lent him $18,000 to buy a house in Florida. He already had $9,000 with him from his savings and from real estate deals, Tucker said. He said he carried the money bundled in a Garfinckel's shirt box and accidentally left it at the Brookside Motel.

"I still have suspicions," said attorney. Victor M. Glasberg said they went to trial." Tucker's at-County Attorney David Stitt. But Stitt said after discussing the case with Tucker's attorney last week he had no evidence that Tucker had broken any laws.

"It became clear we'd be able to make mincemeat of them if of the county's case. "I would have been delighted to go to trial in this case. It would have been fun. We would have massacred them."

Glasberg said he did not know what Tucker would do with the money and Tucker could not be reached for comment yesterday in West Palm Beach, Fla., where he now lives.

"I think it's a shame he had to spend a lot of money to get his money back," Glasberg said. Glasberg would not disclose how much money he would get for representing Tucker.

All sides - the county, Tucker and Black - seemed pleased that Black was given a reward.

"Black had done a good thing," Glasberg said.

Having Black get a reward was "something we were interested in seeing," Stitt said. "He did a very, very honest thing turning over the money to police."

One-third of the reward to Black will go for attorneys fees, according to Gerard F. Treanor Jr., one of Black's attorneys.

Black "is delighted," Treanor said. "He feels he's been well served and the amount of money he received was an adquate reward."

Tucker will probably get the money, plus interest, sometime next week, Glasberg said. THe county kept the money in certificates of deposit, which should yield about $1,000 in interest, he said.