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Adellene Balgobin and Robert Konashewych were convicted of stealing more than $800,000 from an old man who died leaving no heirs.

7 years in prison for an agent and his ex-friend for fraud

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It is a disappointment for the defense of the two individuals, who had requested leniency for their clients. (Archive photo)

  • Jean-Philippe Nadeau (View profile)Jean -Philippe Nadeau

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In Toronto, police officer Robert Konashewych and his former mistress Adellene Balgobin were sentenced Tuesday to seven years in prison each for fraud. The police officer had created a false will in order to pass himself off as the sole heir of Heinz Sommerfeld with the complicity of Adellene Balgobin, who worked at the time at the public trusteeship of Ontario .

Ms. Balgobin was convicted earlier this year of theft over $5,000 and breach of trust, while Mr. Konashewych was found guilty of theft over $5,000 only, following their jury trial.

In addition to her 7-year sentence, Ms. Balgobin is sentenced to 5 years in prison for the charge of breach of trust, which she will have to serve concurrently with the first.

Constable Konashewych of the Toronto Police Service was Ms. Balgobin's lover at the time.

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The Crown had requested an exemplary sentence of eight to nine years in prison for their scheme, which it described as sophisticated. She therefore won her bet.

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The Office of the Public Guardian and Trustee of Ontario is located in this building in downtown Toronto. (File photo)

Ms. Balgobin's defense had said that her client had acted out of love and not greed and that she was a victim in this case.

She was hoping for a strictly suspended sentence with a period of probation, since the responsibility for the crime lay entirely with the police officer.

M's defense Konashewych argued for his part that it was not a large-scale fraud and that his client had returned the stolen money to the public trusteeship. She asked for a 2-year prison sentence to be served in the community.

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Police officer Robert Konashewych in February 2015. (Archive photo)

Judge Sean Dunphy considered aggravating factors, such as the police officer's abuse of authority, the civil servant's breach of trust, their lack of remorse, the seriousness of the crime and the amount of the theft and the irreparable impact the fraud had on their victim's true heir.

Their plan was complex, well thought out in advance and carried out for a long time; their moral culpability is of a very high degree, writes the magistrate of the Ontario Superior Court.

The trial showed that the civil servant of the public guardianship and the police officer met in 2014 when the woman was not yet the file manager of the deceased in this case.

Heinz Sommerfeld, who suffered from Alzheimer's, could not manage his fortune, which had been entrusted in 2008 to the Office of the Public Guardian and Trustee of Ontario, responsible for managing the money of Ontarians who are incapable of doing so or who die without family or heirs.

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Adellene Balgobin leaves the Toronto courthouse at the end of her sentencing hearing in October. (File photo)

Mr. Sommerfeld died in June 2017 at age 77. Mr. Konashewych received his inheritance during the summer of 2018 by creating a false will which he had submitted to the curatorship with the help of his accomplice.

Mr. Konashewych claimed he met Mr. Sommerfeld when he worked as a security guard at Toronto's Woodbine Racetrack casino before he became a police officer.

He explained that the old man had then chosen him as his heir, because he was without family.

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Candice Dixon, who was Robert Konashewych's ex-fiancée, spilled the beans at the time to the police, who then arrested the two individuals in 2020.

However, Mr. Sommerfeld had a half-brother, Peter Stelter, whom he had lost sight of for a long time, from whom Mrs. Balgobin had hidden the nature and extent of Mr. Sommerfeld when she traced him in February 2018.

Since the guilty verdict, the $830,000 has been returned to public curatorship.

In conclusion, the judge emphasizes that although the money was recovered, the fact remains that Mr. Stelter and his family suffered from the crime and the opportunities to educate his grandchildren were, for example, failed.

Agent Konashewych is still suspended, but this time without pay since the verdict , and Ms. Balgobin worked on the latest news in a fast food restaurant.

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