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Jewels Returned to Idaho Farmer

February 24, 1989

CHICAGO (AP) _ An Idaho businessman who lost $125,000 in uncut diamonds during his return from Europe got them back from a good Samaritan who found them on an airport sidewalk.

Chris Cacioppo, a 53-year-old office worker, received a $7,500 reward from Roland Von Walker of Rigby, Idaho, for his good deed.

Cacioppo returned the diamonds Thursday to a Walker business associate, George St. Laurent, during a meeting at the office of Cacioppo’s lawyer.

″Mr. Walker was certainly pleased,″ St. Laurent said. ″We were a little surprised that they hadn’t been turned in earlier.″ He said they were virtually worthless uncut.

Walker, 62, lost the diamonds at O’Hare International Airport on Friday, when he flew in from Amsterdam.

He had returned from his travels with 76 uncut stones, worth about $220,000, which he had mined and purchased in Liberia. He carried them in two envelopes pinned inside his pants pockets.

But when Walker reached the U.S. Customs Service desk at O’Hare, one envelope was missing. He reported the loss Saturday.

Cacioppo, of suburban Mount Prospect, was on the same KLM Airlines flight and said he found the envelope of diamonds on the sidewalk outside a terminal.

″I picked it up and put it in a pocket without looking in it because I wasn’t feeling too swift,″ he said.

Because of his illness, Cacioppo said he stayed in bed Saturday and finally got up on Sunday to eat something. Then his wife asked about the package.

″I opened it and wasn’t sure what they were,″ he said. ″I took them to a friend, who told me he thought they were real diamonds.″

Cacioppo said he was excited and pretty nervous about the discovery, and at the insistence of a friend, contacted attorney Robert Clifford for advice. Clifford phoned Chicago police, who provided Walker’s telephone number.

Cacioppo, who plans to use the money to finance his son’s college education, said he did not regret giving up the diamonds. ″It was the right thing to do.″

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