Wayne Sabaj, Illinois Man Who Found $150,000 In Garden, Dies Days Before Getting 'Cursed' Dollars

Fight Over 'Cursed' Money Found In Garden 2 Years Ago Finally Settled

Updated story

A 51-year-old Illinois man who received international media attention after he found a bag containing $150,000 in cash in his garden two years ago died last week -- just 10 days before he was set to collect a portion of the money his neighbor claimed was "cursed."

Wayne Sabaj, of Johnsburg in McHenry County, died on July 1 after he experienced a diabetic problem, his lawyer told the Associated Press. No foul play is suspected in his death.

In August 2011, Sabaj, a carpenter who had been unemployed for two years at that point, found the $150,000 stashed inside a nylon bag in his back yard garden while he was picking broccoli. He alerted police about what he had found and turned the bag over with the understanding that if the money was not claimed by anyone else by the end of 2012, it would be his. (Watch more about Sabaj's original discovery below.)

Though no one else immediately claimed it was theirs, eventually both an 87-year-old neighbor, Dolores Johnson, and a Naperville liquor store also stepped up and attempted to stake their claim.

Johnson, who suffered from dementia, died in January after, according to court records, claiming "she had gotten rid of the money because it was cursed," the Chicago Tribune previously reported.

In court Thursday, a judge gave the bulk of the money to Johnson's daughter, according to the Northwest Herald. Sabaj's father Kevin, who went into cardiac arrest after finding out about his son's death last week and was hospitalized for a time, will receive a smaller finder's fee.

According to his obituary in the Herald, Sabaj was a lifelong resident of Johnsburg who "loved rappelling, camping, a good party, cooking, 4-wheeling, jazz music, bonfires, bowling, skiing, story telling and catching people off guard with a good joke." He reportedly "took great pride" in the vegetable garden where he found a fortune he ultimately returned.

Wayne's funeral will be held Saturday at 10 a.m. at the Lutheran Church of All Saints in Spring Grove, Ill.

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