Wednesday, Dec. 12, 2012 | 4:18 p.m.
CARSON CITY — A California woman has been determined to be the rightful heir to $7.4 million in gold coins hoarded by a reclusive cousin, despite some seemingly unlikely claims by others, including a “secret agent” who suddenly remembered he was a relative.
Carson City Clerk-Recorder Alan Glover said a monthlong genealogical search determined Arlene Magdon, a first cousin, is the only living relative of Walter Samasko Jr., who died in May.
Magdon has kept a low profile but has hired a financial adviser for assistance once the money is released, probably in the middle of next year, Glover said.
It was a month — only after neighbors complained of an odor coming from Samasko's house in Carson City — before anybody realized he had died. He had few friends and lived alone on $500 a month from stock investments, officials said.
The 2,695 gold coins, some dating to the 1880s, were discovered in boxes in Samasko’s garage among cartons of tuna.
After the news broke, Glover said, other parties came forward in an attempt to claim the fortune.
A man in Florida wrote a letter asserting he was a secret agent and had suffered a severe head injury and just recently remembered he was related to Samasko, Glover said. But no claim was filed with the court.
A hearing is set for Tuesday before District Judge James Wilson to certify Magdon as the legitimate heir.
Glover said officials plan to sell the coins, stored with an armored car company, and turn the money over to Magdon, minus an estimated $800,000 in inheritance tax, plus some other expenses.
Samasko’s house already has been sold for $112,500, and a 1968 Ford Mustang, valued at $17,000, also will be put up for sale, Glover said.