by John Del Signore

“A tourist from Atlanta who was enjoying Central Park with his family in August of 2011 got swept up in the NYPD’s controversial ‘Operation Lucky Bag’ after he noticed an old, ‘smelly’ purse abandoned by a bench.  Yakov Dubin, 49, had stopped to tie his shoe when he spotted the handbag and peered inside, discovering a cool $27 and no identification.  According to a $1 million lawsuit filed against the city, Dubin ‘removed the cash from the purse, with the intention to then find a park ranger or other officer, to which he could turn the money over.’  Unfortunately for him, the officers were already there.

“Plainclothes cops immediately swooped in and arrested Dubin, who tried to explain that he’d just withdrawn $100 from an ATM and had no intention of keeping the $27.”

Operation Lucky Bag is yet another of the NYPD’s tactics that veer dangerously close to entrapment.  Under New York State Law, anyone who finds property worth twenty dollars or more has a duty to return it to the owner or turn it over to the police.  How soon will the NYPD simply be leaving twenty dollar bills on the sidewalk and arresting the first person to pick it up?