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CFO Sink Returns a Purple Heart and Silver Star to the Family of a Florida Marine

7/24/2007

CONTACT:  Nina Banister or Brannon Jordan
850) 413-2842
 
HOMOSASSA — Florida Chief Financial Officer Alex Sink announced today the return of a Purple Heart and a Silver Star to the son of the late Kenneth DeVillez, a Marine who earned the medals for injury and bravery sustained at the Battle of Iwo Jima during World War II.  Representatives of the state’s Unclaimed Property program presented the medals Tuesday to Daniel DeVillez and his wife Beverly at their residence in Homosassa.
 
“For this family, these medals are a lasting legacy of their father and his honorable service to our country," said CFO Sink who oversees the Department of Financial Services and the Bureau of Unclaimed Property (Bureau).  “I’m so pleased our department was able to reunite Beverly and Daniel with these priceless family heirlooms.”
 
Upon Private First Class DeVillez’ death, his wife, Madaline, placed the medals into a bank safe deposit box.  Mrs. DeVillez later was stricken with Alzheimer’s and lost track of the box’s whereabouts, leaving the family desperately searching for the missing medals.  After her death, the family pursued looking for the items for several years to no avail.  The family had lost hope of ever finding their father’s medals until they got a call a few weeks ago from the Bureau. 
 
The Bureau of Unclaimed Property currently holds unclaimed property accounts valued at more than $1 billion, mostly from dormant accounts in financial institutions, insurance and utility companies, securities and trust holdings.  Since the program's inception 46 years ago, the Bureau has successfully reunited owners with more than $1 billion in unclaimed property. 
 
Currently there are 21,608 unclaimed property accounts for a total of $3.3 million in Citrus County, 8,914 accounts for $1.2 million in Hardee County, 23,050 accounts for $3.4 million in Hernando County, 22,551 accounts for $4 million in Highlands County, 357,496 accounts for $47.4 million in Hillsborough County, 61,463 accounts for $10.1 million in Manatee County, 96,615 accounts for $14 million in Pasco County, 218,735 accounts totaling $40 million in Pinellas County, 124,912 accounts for $15.4 million in Polk County, and 90,798 accounts for $17 million in Sarasota County.
 
Unclaimed property can be claimed for free at any time by the rightful owners or heirs by logging on to www.fltreasurehunt.org or by calling the Bureau at 1-88-VALUABLE.  Until claimed, the unclaimed funds are transferred to the state’s School Trust Fund to benefit public schools.  Since the program’s inception in 1961, more than $1.5 billion has been transferred to the fund. 
 
The Bureau also receives items that have been abandoned in safe deposit boxes for at least three years and spends up to two years searching for the rightful owners or heirs.  The Bureau has had tremendous success in finding owners.  In the past year alone, the Bureau returned a record 255,000 accounts valued at more than $171 million.  But when owners or heirs cannot be found, the items are auctioned.  While the proceeds from the auctioned items are transferred to the state's Public School Trust Fund, the money is held in the original owner’s name and can be claimed for free at any time.
 
CFO Sink announced that the Bureau will hold an auction this year in Orlando on Saturday, August 4, 2007, in the Florida Hotel and Conference Center at the Florida Mall.  The auction will offer more than 40,000 items including collectibles, jewelry, and historic coins.  A preview of auction items will be held on Friday, August 3, 2007, from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m.  The auction will be held on Saturday, August 4, from 10 a.m. until all items are sold.  Specific items up for sale include an un-circulated 1882 silver dollar, baseballs autographed by Hank Aaron and Don Larsen, diamond jewelry, Spanish colonial silver coins, a $500 bill, and a platinum ring with a 17 ct. natural sapphire.
 
Participation is open to all Floridians.  To participate in the preview and auction, potential bidders will be required to register with the auctioneer and provide a valid ID with current address and refundable $100 cash deposit that can also be applied to any purchases.   Most bank debit cards are permitted for payment of the $100 deposit.  Payments for purchases must be made with cash, traveler's check, most bank debit cards, or cashiers check made payable to Fisher Auction Co.  For additional information on terms for participating, please visit http://www.fltreasurehunt.org/ and click on “upcoming auction.”
 
As a statewide elected officer of the Florida Cabinet, Chief Financial Officer Alex Sink  oversees the Department of Financial Services, a multi-division state agency responsible for management of state funds and unclaimed property, assisting consumers who request information and help related to financial services, and investigating financial fraud. CFO Sink also serves as the State Fire Marshal.