Johnsburg man who found $150K in garden dies

Associated Press
Updated 7/3/2013 9:08 PM

A Johnsburg man who found $150,000 cash in his vegetable garden and informed the authorities has died, with competing claims for the money still unresolved.

Wayne Sabaj, died Monday after apparently experiencing a diabetic problem, said his lawyer, Robert Burke. Efforts to revive him failed.


Sabaj found a nylon bag stuffed with bundles of $20 bills in his garden in 2011. He was unemployed and said he thought about keeping it, but instead he called the McHenry County sheriff's police, whose officers found more money while searching the garden.

Authorities told Sabaj he could keep the cash if no one claimed it, but a neighbor and Naperville liquor store each said it was theirs.

An attorney for Nazco Enterprises, which owns Extra Value Liquors, said in a court filing that the store was robbed on Sept. 13, 2010, by a masked gunman who made off with $150,000 in bundles of mostly $20s and $50 bills. Sabaj's neighbor, Dolores Johnson, also claimed the money. She died six months ago.

The matter is scheduled for court July 11, where Johnson's daughter is expected to testify that the money belonged to her mother.

By law, the finder becomes the owner of the cash if the owner doesn't come forward one year from the last date of published public notice, which in this case was in September 2011.

"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."

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