Problem Solver: Getting construction bond back turns into major project

Deposit ends up in state's unclaimed property division

It was more than a decade ago that Jack Ezell handed the village of Skokie a check for $250, a bond deposit for a construction job he was starting through his company, Ezell Builders.

He completed the job, but never got the money back.

"He probably figured it was nonrefundable or something," said his daughter, Deborah Daniel. "It was forgotten."

Eventually, Skokie sent the money to the state of Illinois' unclaimed property division in the state treasurer's office.

It wasn't until last year that the family realized the money was there.

A family friend saw Ezell Builders listed in a treasurer's office advertisement in the Tribune. The friend called Daniel.

"I looked in the paper and there it was," Daniel said. "They make it sound so easy, like all you have to do is call and there's your money."

Well, not quite.

Jack Ezell died in 2009, meaning the $250 would go to his wife, Joan.

The Arlington Heights resident filed a claim last year for the money but was told she needed to produce a final tax return for her late husband's business.

Joan Ezell responded with a letter to the state saying she didn't have a copy of the final tax return because it was destroyed in a flood.

Again, the state asked for a copy of the final tax return.

Ezell sent another later saying she didn't have it.

After that, the state quit replying to her requests, Daniel said.

In April, the state again printed a list of unclaimed property in the Tribune, but Ezell Builders wasn't listed.

Daniel said the family never got the money.

Worried that the $250 was lost forever, Daniel emailed What's Your Problem?

"I have spent too much time trying to get my mom this small amount of money because it belongs to her, and the state should return it," Daniel said.

The Problem Solver called Catie Sheehan, a spokeswoman for state Treasurer Dan Rutherford.

Sheehan researched the situation and found that Ezell had submitted a letter explaining why she couldn't send the tax return.

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