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It#8217;s a true David and Goliath tale

I have always had a soft spot in my heart for the little guy, the underdog. And after hearing the following story, it warms my heart even more to know there are people out there like this man.

The man’s name is Clark Howard, and he is a financial guru with his own radio show, which I listen to from time to time.

On Wednesday he was a guest of Neal Boortz, who has his own talk show on a local AM station.

Howard told the story of Matthew Shinnick, a San Francisco resident, who is out thousands in legal fees because of something that happened at a local branch of Bank of America.

The way Howard tells the story, Shinnick had bicycles for sale on a Web site called Craigslist, something similar to eBay.

A buyer sent Shinnick a check, and since the bank no longer allows verification of funds over the phone, he carried it to a local branch in his California home.

Once presented to the teller, Howard said she walked away with the check, returned a few minutes later and told Shinnick to endorse it. As he was signing the document, local police officers approached him, put him in handcuffs, and whisked him away, but only after having to sit in the bank for 45 minutes, in the cuffs, while police talked to bank officials.

It seems the check was written on “bad paper,” but to an existing account.

Shinnick was taken to the police precinct, where he was fingerprinted, strip searched and put into an orange jail jumpsuit.

After about 12 hours of sitting in a cell with others who had been arrested, including drug users and dealers, as Howard relates it, Shinnick’s father posted a $4,500 bond and the young man was released.

The district attorney then dropped all charges against Shinnick.

By the time it was all said and done, Shinnick was in the hole about $14,000 in legal fees, which he hoped he would be able to recover from BofA.

The problem is, you can’t sue a California bank — there is some law out there that exempts them from such actions.

After hearing his plan, William Minnes, bank vice president, wrote Shinnick a letter stating BofA has no legal liability in the case because of a 2004 Supreme Court ruling that basically said no liability can be connected to telling police of a suspected crime. Minnes warned that &uot;litigation would not prove financially beneficial&uot; to Shinnick.

There is more to the story, a few more details which you can find at http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?file=/chronicle/archive/2006/08/30/BUGTGKRHSF1.DTL&type=tech.

And while Shinnick may be finished with this episode in his life, Howard isn’t.

He told Boortz that he had a Web site where his listeners were being asked to pull all of their funds out of Bank of America.

As of Wednesday, Howard reported the amount of money taken out of those accounts was more than $27 million.

A lot, until you realize that BofA is worth somewhere in the trillions.

That may not hurt the bank very much, but I love the principal involved.

Let’s hear it for the little guy.

Peanut Fest

We just finished a 36-page guide to this year’s Peanut Fest, which runs Oct. 12-15. Pray for dry weather.

It’s full of useful information and history on the peanut in Suffolk. Hopefully it will help you navigate your way through and around the festival and make your visit even more enjoyable.

Look for yours in the Oct. 8 edition of this newspaper.

See at the airport.

doug.grant@suffolknewsherald.com