Hamilton learned of this in 2011, when he was contacted by Glenside real-estate agent Joe O'Hara. For a fee, O'Hara helps people collect money they're owed by the Sheriff's Office (he's registered with the office to do so).
Hamilton gave O'Hara limited power of attorney to act on his behalf to get the $18,234. So O'Hara did. Six months after filing the claim, he was told that the money had been sent to the state Treasury Department's Bureau of Unclaimed Property.
So O'Hara applied to the bureau for the money. In June, the bureau issued Hamilton a check for $3,758 - nearly $15,000 shy of what Hamilton was owed.
That's because the Sheriff's Office sent the wrong amount to the bureau. So O'Hara asked the office to correct the mistake.
And the weirdness began.
Over the past year, as O'Hara has tried to get Hamilton's money, his every call, email and visit to the Sheriff's Office has been met with another reason why Hamilton can't be paid just yet.
First, the office made O'Hara refile the limited power-of-attorney papers he'd already filed on Hamilton's behalf.
Then, undersheriff Joe Vignola wondered whether O'Hara should even be speaking with people in the Sheriff's Office, since O'Hara has a class-action lawsuit pending against the office (for matters unrelated to the Hamilton case).
Now, the Sheriff's Office is questioning whether Hamilton is entitled to any money at all.
According to Vignola, Hamilton said things during conversations with Sheriff's Office employees that led them to believe he is not the John Hamilton who had owned the house in question.
The real Hamilton, they allege, was actually Hamilton's father, who they said was also named John Hamilton. The son, they said, is pretending to be the father so he can collect the cash.
Except the father's name wasn't John Hamilton. It was John Edward Jones, say O'Hara and Hamilton (and two Hamilton family members I've spoken with).
"This is the latest bizarre thing they're doing to avoid paying," says O'Hara, who has gotten intervention from three City Council members in the past year for help with this case.
In fairness, the confusion may have started when Hamilton told the office that his father bought the house at 409 W. Master. But that doesn't mean his father owned it. Instead, he put the deed in Hamilton's and Saunders' names. So, legally, it was their house, not his.
Not so fast, says Vignola.
To prove that Hamilton's father's name is really John Edward Jones, Vignola told me, Hamilton must produce Jones' death certificate.
Except the certificate wouldn't name Hamilton as Jones' son. So what would be the point?
As an alternative, said Vignola, Hamilton can open a claim to his father's estate and acquire entitlement to the property's proceeds that way. Except - here we go again - the house's deed isn't in Jones' name.
I'm beginning to suspect that the problem here is O'Hara - or, rather, what the Sheriff's Office makes of him.
Both Hamilton and his daughter, Jonnie Dozier, say Sheriff's Office employees have urged them to give O'Hara the boot. The employees called O'Hara dishonest and unethical.
"A lady from the office kept trying to convince me that Joe was a fraud," says Dozier.
I ran the allegations by Sheriff's Office spokesman Joe Blake. His answer? No comment.
So let me offer one of mine.
If the Sheriff's Office has a beef with O'Hara, it should take it up with him - not Hamilton.
The man has offered proof enough that the house was his. Enough is enough. Just pay him.
On Twitter: @RonniePhilly