10 Days After Finder Dies, Judge Splits $150K Recovered in Garden

Wayne Sabaj died July 1, nearly two years after finding cash in his vegetable garden

Thursday, Jul 11, 2013  |  Updated 6:23 PM CDT
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Judge Splits Found $150K After Finder Dies

Wayne Sabaj, in a photo taken before getting his teeth done by Dr. Mazar Shuaipaj. The dentist did the work for free after being impressed with Sabaj's decision to turn the money over to authorities.

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A scheduled hearing to decide who would get to keep the $150,000 cash a man found in his garden went ahead Thursday, 10 days after the finder died from complications with diabetes.

Wayne Sabaj found the money in his garden in late August, 2011 when he went to pick some broccoli for dinner. The funds were wrapped in plastic and stuffed in two nylon bags.

His neighbor, Delores Johnson, claimed she owned the cash, but she died in January.

McHenry County Judge Thomas Meyer on Thursday signed off on a deal to give half the money to Sabaj's son, Kevin Sabaj, with the other half going to the daughter of the neighbor, Diane Howe.

Howe told the judge her mother lived with dementia and likely put the money in her neighbor's garden because it was "cursed," according to the Chicago Tribune. She was able to identify characteristics associated with the money -- its age and how it was packed -- because she said she used to count it with her mother.

A Naperville liquor store owner who also had made a claim to the money withdrew his claim. The store owner had said the money was taken during an armed robbery.

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