Gaffney Widow Awarded $125K, After Thieves Steal ‘Buried Treasure’

Among a modest Gaffney neighborhood, there’s one 7,000 sq. foot home that would probably stick out to you.

The man who lived inside was a successful entrepreneur before he died, who didn’t trust his money in banks.  Instead, he buried it in the basement.

“He told his wife about it,” said attorney Charlie Hodge.

When the husband, J. Mathis Brown, passed away unexpectedly in 2003, his wife searched the spot and couldn’t find it.

Seven years later, in 2010, the basement needed repair.

“There was some moisture in the basement and it was sort of near this area where the buried treasure was,” said Hodge.

That’s when Lois Brown hired Painter’s Heating & Air Conditioning and trusted the workers to take a look.

“Ms. Brown mentioned to him that if the money was found, during the repair work, that she would split it with them,” said Hodge.

Investigators say the two men found the $100,000 buried in a PVC pipe, but never told her.

According to court documents, the two men stopped coming to work the day after finding the money. Investigators say they also didn’t waste any time spending it.

“These individuals spent thousands of dollars in about a 3-week period,” said Hodge.

Receipt after receipt, Brown’s attorney showed 7 On Your Side purchases the two men allegedly made.

Combined, records show the two bought vehicles, a tractor, lawnmower, and new big-screen TV.  All of those purchases were made with cash — $100 bills to be exact.

Both pleaded guilty to grand larceny charges three years later, but Brown never got her money back until Friday

A jury awarded 90-year-old Brown $125,000 in the civil suit against Painter’s Heating & Air Conditioning.

Hodge convinced the Cherokee County jury that the company should share responsibility for its employees actions.

With more than 35 years experience, and nearly a thousand cases under his belt, Hodge says this is a case he’ll never forget.

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