James Brady of Hackensack, 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 $850 he found in a bank envelope on the sidewalk.
Last month, city police gave Brady the money he had turned in to them six months earlier because it had remained unclaimed. City officials celebrated his honest act, and he became a minor celebrity.
But, Agatha Toomey, director of Hackensack Human Services, who is responsible for administering aid for the needy saw the widely circulated story and canceled Brady’s benefits through the end of this year because he had failed to disclose the $850 on paperwork
Brady says that he hadn’t realized he was required to report the money. Formerly homeless, he had recently found housing and was seeing a therapist and a psychiatrist and taking medication, but was unsure he’d be able to afford continuing care after his benefits were cut off.
“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.”