GREENSBURG, La. - Beavers found a bag of bills stolen from a casino, tore it open and wove the money into the sticks and brush of their dam on a creek near Baton Rouge.
"They hadn't torn the bills up. They were still whole," said Maj. Michael Martin of the East Feliciana Parish Sheriff's Office.
The money was part of at least $70,000 taken last week from the Lucky Dollar Casino in Greensburg, about 30 miles northeast of Baton Rouge.
Sheriff's deputies in St. Helena Parish, where the truck stop video poker casino is located, have accused a security guard at the casino of disabling its security cameras. Jacqueline Wall, 25, was booked with felony theft, Martin said.
She told investigators a ski-masked gunman made her help him empty all the casino's safes, then kidnapped her, knocked her out and left her in an uninhabited area in East Feliciana Parish.
Deputies had searched for the money for days before an attorney called with a tip: the money had been thrown into the creek. The attorney's client hopes to make a deal with prosecutors, Greensburg Police Chief Ronald Harrell said.
They found one money bag right away. The second was downstream, against the beaver dam.
After trying unsuccessfully to find the third bag in the deep water near the dam, Martin said, deputies began to break it down to release some of the water so they could search in a shallower pool.
That was when they saw the dam's expensive decoration.
He said they eventually found the third sack, which still had some money left in it.
"The casino people were elated" to get the money back, even if some of it was wet, Harrell said.
Deputies found about $40,000, and expected to find the rest in a safety deposit box at a bank in Mississippi.