2013-08-07 / Front Page

Marshall Honors Good Samaritans

Queens Borough President Helen Marshall (c.) honored Atlantic Recycling Manager Michael Downer (l.) and Atlantic tow truck driver Fred Alsterberg (r.) whose honesty and efforts recovered Magda Castillo’s life savings.Queens Borough President Helen Marshall (c.) honored Atlantic Recycling Manager Michael Downer (l.) and Atlantic tow truck driver Fred Alsterberg (r.) whose honesty and efforts recovered Magda Castillo’s life savings.Queens Borough President Helen Marshall paid tribute to two men who worked together to recover and return about $5,000 in cash representing a woman’s lost life savings. She had stashed the sum   in a refrigerator that was mistakenly sold for scrap by a family member who did not suspect what was inside the appliance.
Michael Downer, manager at Atlantic Recycling, an Ozone Park scrapyard, and Fred Alsterberg, a tow-truck driver for that same company, visited Queens Borough Hall on July 31 to accept congratulations from Marshall. The borough president presented the men with Citations of Honor in recognition of their honesty and diligent efforts to recover the lost money and return it to its rightful owner.  
“I commend Michael and Fred for their honesty and for their determination in making sure this lost cash was returned to the right person,” Marshall said. “They understood how important it was to return the money and were willing to make the extra effort to find it and locate the woman who lost it. They deserve our praise and admiration.”
The saga over the missing money began almost three weeks ago, when a relative of Magda Castillo brought an old refrigerator to Atlantic Recycling without realizing Castillo’s life savings were hidden inside it.
When she realized the refrigerator was gone, Castillo went to Atlantic Recycling and told Alsterberg what happened. Alsterberg searched the scrapyard but could not find the refrigerator. Castillo then left without leaving her name, address or phone number.
Alsterberg then alerted Downer about the situation when Downer arrived for work a short time later.  Downer immediately recalled where Castillo’s refrigerator had been placed in the scrapyard and was able to find it and recover the money.  However, because they did not have Castillo’s contact information, Downer and Alsterberg did not have a way to return the money to her. They even drove around the neighborhood in search of her, to no avail.
Finally, the two men were able to return the money to Castillo when she returned to the scrapyard on July 23, after a relative of Castillo’s saw a news report about how the two men found the money.

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