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Making $12,000 in tips is a good night for a server.

Stacy Knutson, a struggling waitress at the Fryn’ Pan restaurant in Moorhead, Minn., and the mother of five children, discovered the $12,000 left on a table inside a to-go box, according to the Duluth News Tribune.

The waitress noticed that her customer had left a to-go box on the table, so she followed the diner out of the restaurant.

She tried to give it back, but the lady said, “No, I am good, you keep it.”

After returning to the restaurant, Knutson discovered there was $12,000 in the box.

Knutson contacted the police to inform them of the three wads of $100, $50, $20 and $10 bills wrapped in rubber bands.

“Even though I desperately needed the money, as my husband and I have 5 children, I feel I did the right thing by calling Moorhead Police,” she states in a lawsuit filed against the police department in an effort to recover the money.

The police initially said she could keep the money if no one claimed it, but later seized it, claiming it was part of a drug investigation.

Knutson told the News Tribune that she considered the $12,000 a tip when no one claimed it after 90 days.

The waitress sued the police for the money, saying it was a gift and shouldn’t have been seized.

“The thing that’s sad about it is here’s somebody who truly needs this gift … and now the government is getting in the way of it,” the woman’s attorney, Craig Richie of Fargo, S.D., told the News Tribune.

After receiving national attention, the police said they would return the $12,000 after it was determined the money couldn’t be tied to a criminal investigation.

EMAIL: jferguson@desnews.com

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