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Monday, November 11, 2013

No Good Deed Goes Unpunished

According to North Jersey's, The Record, James Brady (picture), the formerly homeless man who earned national praise for turning in $850 he found on the street in Hackensack, learned the hard way this week that no good deed goes unpunished. Brady was denied General Assistance and Medicaid benefits by the Hackensack Human Services Department through Dec. 31 because he failed to report new income he received. The income, according to the agency, was the cash he found on Main Street last spring and that police returned to him in October after no one claimed it.

The good deed turned Brady, who was homeless at the time he found the money, into a minor celebrity. He was featured in news reports across the country and honored by the Hackensack City Council. Now, he said, he’s being treated like a crook. “This is stupid,” Brady said. “I had already proven my honesty by turning in the $850. They were treating me like I was a dishonest individual, like I was trying to cheat them out of the money.” Agatha Toomey, director of Human Services, said she was just following rules when she denied the benefits. The rules, she said, require any lump sum payment to be reported as income. “I’m sorry but we had to — I had to — follow regulations,” she said. “He only pays five dollars [a month] in rent.”

Brady, a former news photographer and market data analyst, fell on hard times more than a decade ago when he became unemployed and suffered from depression. He was supposed to be at the World Trade Center on Sept. 11 for a business event — and the knowledge that he could have been killed traumatized him, he said. After using all his savings and retirement funds, he ended up on the streets and later at the Bergen County Homeless Shelter in Hackensack. He had left the shelter for his daily walk on April 16 when he found and turned in the money he found in a bank envelope on the sidewalk. Brady said he was doing what he believed was right and didn’t want to take money from anyone who could be worse off than he is.
Twitter: GaryJoseph@Help_4Homeless
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