Gary Tognetti’s daughter and her friend were manning his fruit stand in Gilroy, Calif., last week when a man asked for some cold cherries for his drive down to Beverly Hills.
After the man drove off, the girls noticed a wallet had been left behind. It was sitting in a bin of corn.
It was only the next day that Tognetti’s 15-year-old daughter showed him the wallet.
“You’ve got to be kidding me,” Tognetti thought when he opened it, he told The Washington Post.
The driver’s license inside belonged to none other than William Shatner, 91, who played the iconic “Star Trek” character James T. Kirk. Tognetti’s daughter and her friend recognized him only as the man who bought the cold cherries.
Tognetti, 50, is a fourth-generation farmer who grew up in Gilroy, a city about an hour’s drive south of San Francisco that’s known for its garlic. Tognetti said he mostly grows corn, cherries, lettuce, tomatoes and peppers on about 3,500 acres at B&T Farms. He also runs a couple of local roadside produce stands and grew up working at them.
“At my parents’ fruit stand, Joe Montana stopped by and we got his autograph there when I was pretty young,” Tognetti recalled, referring to the star San Francisco 49ers quarterback. But other celebrity sightings have been few and far between.
So he was stunned that he was holding Shatner’s wallet — brown and bumpy and seemingly made of ostrich skin — and wanted to get it back to him, he told The Post. Tognetti contacted his friend at the Gilroy Police Department, Officer Mark Tarasco, who said he would assist with the task of getting ahold of the celebrity.
Tarasco told ABC7 that his department got in touch with the Beverly Hills Police Department and was eventually connected to Shatner’s agent.
In the end, it took less than two hours. “They actually FedExed it that Thursday, and he had it by Friday,” Tognetti said.
Several days later, Shatner thanked Tognetti and his wife on Twitter.
“I would like to thank Gary and Natalie of B&T Farms … for their extreme honesty in returning my lost wallet,” Shatner wrote Tuesday. “They are obviously good citizens.”
He also thanked Tarasco and the Gilroy police.
In addition the cherries — two baskets of Rainier and two baskets of red — Tognetti’s daughter told him that Shatner bought $2 worth of corn. Tognetti suspects Shatner must have paid for the corn in advance and then dropped his wallet as he reached into the bin.
Tognetti told The Post that he wants to put a sign up outside of his stand that says, “William Shatner was here.”
“I’m waiting for people to start popping in and say, ‘Hey, is this where William shopped?’ ” he said.