Minnesota Waitress Sues Police Over $12,000 Tip: UPDATED

Stacy Knutson says cash is rightfully hers, police say it's potentially drug-tainted cash

If $12,000 somehow ended up in our hands, we'd want to hang on to it, too: a Minnesota waitress who found the thousands-of-dollars tip at her table is now suing the police for keeping the money, which is now being investigated in relation to drugs.

Stacy Knutson, who works at the Fryin' Pan in Moorhead, Minn., says a woman left a takeout box (from another restaurant) at her table; when Knutson went to return the box, the woman instructed her to keep it. When Knutson opened the box, she found rolls of cash inside. Knutson called the police, feeling uneasy about keeping the money.

After telling Knutson that she could claim the money after 60 days (and later told after 90 days), the police backtracked and kept the money as part of an ongoing drug investigation, the lawsuit alleges. They said she would receive a $1,000 reward for turning in the money. The reason the police held onto the cash is because of a law that states forfeiture of money in the presence of narcotics. Police are believed to have smelled marijuana on the bills, but Knutson's lawyers say it shouldn't prevent her from keeping the tip.

Knutson now states in the lawsuit that the takeout box was meant for her, due to her family's financial struggles. Said Knutson in the lawsuit, "I do know that the person gave me what was in that to-go bag... Thus as I understand it, it is mine." The tip, she said in the lawsuit, was nothing short of a miracle. Police Lt. Tory Jacobson credited Knutson for "doing the right thing" and alerting the police, but that the final decision — to let her keep the dough or not — now rests in a judge's hands.

Updated: Good news for Knutson today: she'll be able to keep the full $12,000 she discovered at the restaurant she worked at, CBS reports. Her attorney, Craig Richie, says "integrity has now prevailed."