Cursed cash? Judge decides fate of $150K found in Johnsburg garden in 2011

July 11, 2013 2:46:54 PM PDT
Almost two years after a Johnsburg man found $150,000 in his garden, a judge decided who will get the cash.

The man who found the money in a Johnsburg garden died last week, and a neighbor who made claims on the cash died in December - prompting some to think the cash may be cursed.

In August of 2011, Wayne Sabaj went into his garden looking for broccoli. He found a bag full of cash.

"So I went over, picked it up, took it to the picnic table, opened it up and said "Woah! That's a lot of money. Then I came into the house and told my dad, 'Now we are in real trouble," said Sabaj, in 2011.

Rather than keep the $150,000, the out-of-work carpenter called the sheriff. He told me at the time, his reason was partly out of fear.

"Somebody is going to come back when you leave that much money in your backyard and I didn't want nothing to do with it," said Sabaj, in 2011.

Once Sabaj's story made national news, there were several claims on the money, including from Sabaj's elderly neighbor.

"It was her life savings. She kept in cash in her house. She didn't believe in banks and she believed, at the end of her life, the money was cursed. She bagged it up and threw it over the fence," said Kevin McBride, the neighbor's family attorney.

That neighbor, Deloris Johnson, died in December at the age of 87. Ten days ago, Wayne Sabaj also died from complications from diabetes.

The deal reached today calls for much of the money to go to the neighbor's adult daughter. A smaller, finder's fee, to Wayne's son.

"Kevin is content with whatever he gets. His father Wayne was forthright coming forward with this money. A lot of people would probably not have done what Wayne did," said Robert Burke, Sabaj family attorney.

The attorneys for both families would not divulge how the cash was split, and Wayne's son had no comment when he left court on Thursday.

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