By Jeff Todd

GUNNISON, Colo. (CBS4) – Richard Frank Jr. didn’t know he was a wanted man, but the people looking for him were simply trying to repay a debt.

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Richard Frank, Jr. (credit: CBS)

“My wife, Barbara, told me you’re on the news. They’re trying to find out who you are,” Frank said. “It didn’t make sense. It was boggling; I was like really, over 5 bucks?”

In 1980, Frank, then a trooper for Colorado State Patrol, was working around Gunnison. He pulled over two college kids headed west for Los Angeles. Because school was starting soon they wanted to pay the whole fine on the spot.

(credit: CBS)

“They came up a couple bucks short and they said ‘now, what are we going to do?’ and I said, ‘ah, I’ll help you,’ and then I lent them 5 bucks, and they wrote out this little deal with my name and address, and we shook hands and they said ‘we’ll send you that $5,” Frank said.

A picture was taken of the driver shaking hands with Trooper Frank. But the slide was lost for 38 years and uncovered a few months ago. The photographer reached out to Colorado State Patrol to try and find the trooper.

(credit: CBS)

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“It’s fun now. It really is… it’s amazing the amount of attention it’s drawn,” Frank said.

The post on Facebook was shared more than 300 times.

Eventually Frank was identified, but it took longer to actually track him down. On Saturday, the three men connected on the phone to wipe the slate clean.

“At first I’m thinking, ‘I don’t even remember this. This is so long ago,’” Frank said. “Most people would have drove away, you know, flipped you the bird and just kept going.”

(credit: CBS)

Frank says this should be a lesson on always repaying debts and doing the right thing.

“I told them, ‘Now, don’t forget my five bucks,” Frank said. “I have this wonderful moment to just… wow, thank you Lord.”

The check is in the mail, and now three men have a new bond that really started decades ago.

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Jeff Todd joined the CBS4 team in 2011 covering the Western Slope in the Mountain Newsroom. Since 2015 he’s been working across the Front Range in the Denver Headquarters. Follow him on Twitter @CBS4Jeff.