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Charges Dismissed in ‘Buried Treasure’ Case

February 18, 2006

LAWRENCE, Mass. (AP) _ A judge threw out charges Friday against four men accused of stealing antique money they originally claimed to have found buried in a backyard.

Police determined the men actually found the money last April in an old barn that three of them had been hired to repair.

Their lawyers had sought the dismissal, arguing that the money was abandoned property because nobody knew it was in the barn.

The 1,800 antique bills dating from 1899 to 1928 have a face value of about $7,000. A coin dealer the men contacted to appraise the money said he received an offer of $720,000.

Steve O’Connell, a prosecution spokesman, said charges might be refiled.

Tim Crebase of Methuen, Mass., and Barry Billcliff of Manchester, N.H., had been charged with larceny. Kevin Kozak and Matthew Ingham of Newton, N.H., had been charged with receiving stolen property and other counts.

Police last year said the money belonged to barn owner Sylvia J. Littlefield, 75.

The money remains in the possession of the local police department, said Michael Ruane, a lawyer for Crebase. It is unclear how the dispute will be resolved, laywers said.

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