The day after Christmas last year an old high school chum gave Thomas L. Tucker, 24, now a tabletop-maker in Florida, $18,000 in a brown paper bag as a loan so that he could buy a house in Florida, according to a deposition by Tucker unsealed in Fairfax Circuit Court this week.
Two days later, Tucker said, he mistakenly left the loan money along with $9,000 from his savings and real estate deals that he carried around with him, bundled in a Garfinckel's shirt box at the Brookside Motel in Groverton.
The deposition was the most recent step in Tucker's eight months legal battle with Farifax County authorities to claim the $27,000 that was found by a motel custodian and subsequently given to county police. The county says Tuckey must prove in court that the money is his.
"Yes, I gave him the money," Tucker's high school friend, Robert Doty, said in a telephone interview yesterday. Doty, a bumper salesman for the Capital Bumper Co. in Alexandria, said he and Tucker are still friends but that "I don't really have much comment" on the dispute over the money.
Doty's father, Lawrence Doty, said his 22-year-old son could have gotten $18,000 because he had "quite a lot of inheritances." The elder Doty said he did not know Tucker.
In the deposition, Tucker said he sold a piece of property he owned in Richmond and gave a promisory note of $23,500 from the sale as collateral. He said he was to pay Doty 8 per cent interest on the loan over the next three years and that his loan payments would amount to about $6,700 a year.
When he received the money from Doty, he said he did not bother to count it because "it looked right."
"At no time did I count the individual stacks, piece by piece, bill by bill," Tucker told the lawyer and another person claiming the money. The deposition was taken July 7.
The attorneys tried to retrace Tucker's whereabouts around the time he allegedly lost the money. When asked Where he was Dec. 26, Tucker said, "I don't remember where I was at this time. I mean, it's like picking a day seven months ago and saying where were you at 6 in the morning. You know, I don' remember exactly where I was."
Tucker said he only remembered attending his parents' Christmas party on Dec. 25 and that he saw Doty the next day.
After leaving Doty Dec. 26, Tucker said he went to Richmond on a business deal. He said he returned to the Washington area the next day to say goodbye to his girl friend who was staying in Falls Church.
His girl friend was not feeling well so he stayed in Room 15 of Brookside Motel the night of Dec. 27, Tucker said.
The money, which he and Doty bundled into 27 stacks of $1,000 each, was kept in the shirt box in a Samsonite-type briefcase, Tucker said. But he said he couldn't remembered that he put the money in the box in Richmond, he testified.
"I am unable to say if (the box) was a (Christmas) gift, whether I got it out of the trash, whether it was given to me, whether I had picked it up along the route. All I know is I did not have it when I left Washington and I did have it when I arrived back in Washington."
Tucker described details of the box but could not remember what color it was.
When he left the motel the morning of Dec. 28, Tucker went to visit a friend and discovered that he did not have the money in the briefcase, he said.
Tucker said he called the motel. "I said, 'Did you find a Christmas present left in my room, Room 15?' I identified myself," Tucker said. The man at the motel said he gave the money to the police who advised him to get a lawyer.
Tucker said he went to Doty's house and told him he had lost the money. "I told him I lost the money and expected to get it back . .. he was just kind of shocked. I don't think it really mattered to him."