WOODSTOCK – Both Johnsburg residents who had laid claim to $150,000 found in a vegetable garden have died – one just 10 days before a judge could decide to whom the money should be awarded.
Wayne Sabaj found the money in August 2011 in his garden after gathering some vegetables for dinner. He died Monday, his attorney, Robert Burke confirmed.
Sabaj’s neighbor, Dolores Johnson, who also claimed to be the owner of the money, died in January.
A Naperville liquor store owner also claimed the money. An attorney for Nazco Enterprises, which owns Extra Value Liquors in Naperville, filed documents saying a masked gunman robbed the company’s president on Sept. 13, 2010, in the parking lot of Pebblewood Plaza, taking about $150,000 in bundles of mostly $20 and $50 bills.
Burke said he is confident the liquor store will withdraw its petition, but it has not done so.
Under the law, finder becomes keeper if the owner doesn’t come forward one year from the last date of a published public notice. In this case, the notice was made in September 2011.
The matter is scheduled for court on July 11, when Johnson’s daughter is slated to testify that the money was her mother’s.
The packaging of the money was distinguishing, Burke said, and Johnson’s daughter was able to describe it well. Johnson reportedly “got rid of” the money because she believed it was cursed.
“If it comes down to just the lady next door, I would hope they would give Wayne’s son a finder’s fee,” Burke said. “They would have gotten nothing had Wayne not been an honest guy.”