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Cash-After-Crash Offer Ends in Arrest

Times Staff Writer

Werner Ruegger could have arrived home from work with a wallet stuffed with thousands of dollars.

Instead, he won’t get much more than a thank-you note.

The 40-year-old West Los Angeles man was driving home from his office in Marina del Rey on Friday night when his 1984 Peugeot was rammed from behind as he waited at a stop light.

Ruegger, who said he has seen his share of fender-benders in the 10 years he has lived in Los Angeles, turned off his engine, got out of the car and walked back to talk to the driver of the 1974 Porsche that had hit his car.

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“He said, ‘How much do you want? I’ll pay you in cash,’ ” Ruegger recalled Sunday. “He reached into his pocket and pulled out a huge stack of bills. They looked like thousand-dollar bills to me. I thought there was at least $20,000.”

Ruegger, an architect and part-time professor at California State Polytechnic University, Pomona, stared at the wad of money in disbelief. The collision actually had caused only minor damage.

“I could use it. Everybody could use it. But I would like to earn it,” said Ruegger, who was born and raised in Switzerland, but recently was approved for U.S. citizenship.

“When (the driver) got out of his car, he could hardly walk. The man did not belong on the streets,” Ruegger said.

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Ruegger rejected the cash offer, and spent the next half an hour trying to wave down passing motorists at the intersection of Washington Street and Via Marina in hopes that they would call the police. A woman passenger had fled from the Porsche right after the collision, Ruegger said, so he was reluctant to leave the driver alone.

Total of $6,000

When Los Angeles police officers finally arrived, they discovered that the driver, Scott Snyder, 27, actually had one-hundred dollar bills in his pocket--for a total of about $6,000. Inside the black sports car they also found a loaded shotgun and 16 grams of cocaine, police said.

Snyder, who lives in Beverly Hills, was arrested and booked on suspicion of possessing cocaine for sale. He was later released on $5,000 bail, police said.

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Ruegger will probably get a letter of thanks from the Police Department for his role in the arrest, officers said. A letter would be more than he expected, Ruegger said.

“That is just the way I am,” he said.


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