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'A modern-day Robin Hood'

Is there a difference between doing a good thing and doing the right thing?

On Tuesday morning a 16-year-old student was on his way to school at the District 917 Alliance Education Center in Rosemount. Somewhere near the intersection of 195th Street and Pilot Knob Road something in the ditch caught his attention. What he found was a plastic grocery bag with what Dakota County Chief Deputy Dave Bellows described as "a sizable amount of cash."

In this case, "sizable" means somewhere in the neighborhood of $18,000.

The student didn't turn the money in to authorities, which Bellows said would have been the right thing to do. But he didn't run off to Best Buy to load up on Playstation games and DVDs, either.

According to Bellows the student started handing the money out to classmates, teachers and others he came into contact with. He gave about $1,200 to a school bus aide.

The student has been referred to a modern-day Robin Hood and his cash-distribution spree has been described a new kind of stimulus plan.

"The kid had some good motives in terms of, he was trying to share it in some cases with people he thought needed money," Bellows said. "While his motives may have been good, the one thing is, when you find things like that, you find large sums of money or you find property, let the officers know about it because there's always a story behind it."

In this case, the story is a pretty good one.

Several of the students who received money attend classes at other area high schools, including both Farmington and Rosemount high schools. When large sums of money started showing up there police and sheriff's deputies started getting calls, and eventually they traced the money back to the Alliance Education Center.

Bellows said the student initially lied about where he found the money but ultimately admitted he found it in a ditch. As stories go, Bellows said, it was about as convincing as, "the dog ate my homework."

Except it was true. The student told police where he found the money and when Farmington police checked it out they found three pounds of marijuana. Bellows said the county's drug task force now believes the money is connected to an ongoing investigation. Bellows believes someone involved in that investigation, believing he was being followed, threw the money and the drugs out his car window just a day or two before it was found.

"We're talking about a very narrow amount of time," Bellows said.

The narcotics investigation is ongoing. It will ultimately be up to the Dakota County Attorney's office to decide whether to charge the student, but Bellows said charges are not likely.