In June 2023, police Constable Robert Konashewych (“Mr. Konashewych”) and his girlfriend Adellene Balgobin (“Ms. Balgobin”), were found guilty by a jury of fraud and breach of trust by fabricating a Last Will and Testament. The purported testator of the Will in question was the late Heinz Siegfried Sommerfeld (“Mr. Sommerfeld”).
The decision represents a strong example of when fraud is alleged and proved in relation to a Will challenge but in a criminal matter.
Mr. Sommerfeld never married or had children and lived alone for most of his life. In his later years he was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease and was placed into a long-term care home. Mr. Sommerfeld was also estranged from his family and did not make a Will prior to his passing.
Mr. Konashewych has served with the Toronto Police Service since 2008. In an affidavit he filed during probate, Mr. Konashewych asserts that he met Mr. Sommerfeld in 2005 and the two become close friends.
Due to Mr. Sommerfeld’s Alzheimer’s, he received assistance from the Office of the Public Guardian and Trustee (“PGT”). Ms. Balgobin worked as a senior client representative with the PGT and was entrusted with overseeing Mr. Sommerfeld’s affairs after he was placed in a nursing home. At this time, Ms. Balgobin and Mr. Konashewych were in a relationship.
On June 17, 2017, Mr. Sommerfeld passed away intestate at his long-term care home.
A week later, Mr. Konashewych contacted the PGT claiming he was in possession of Mr. Sommerfeld’s true Last Will and Testament. In doing so, Mr. Konashewych was audacious enough to present the Will, dated 2006, with the names of two witnesses that do not exist. Further still, the Will appointed Mr. Konashewych as the executor and made him the sole beneficiary of Mr. Sommerfeld’s estate, valued at approximately $834,000.
Mr. Konashewych received his inheritance of $834,000 in 2018. It was his ex-partner, Candice Dixon (“Ms. Dixon”) who unearthed the fraud when opening two letters addressed to him at her home, where he used to reside. Ms. Dixon subsequently contacted the authorities and following an investigation Mr. Konashewych was arrested on July 9, 2020 and the monies seized from his bank account.
During the trial, prosecutors raised their suspicions as to why a reclusive 66-year-old man would leave the entirety of his estate to a 22-year old man he met only a year prior. The understanding from prosecutors was that Ms. Balgobin worked together with Mr. Konashewych by feeding him information pertaining to Mr. Sommerfeld and his signature in order to create the fraudulent will.
Sentencing for Mr. Konashewych and Ms. Balgobin is scheduled for October 12, 2023. They each face potential sentences of 14 years in prison, the maximum penalty allotted for fraud over $5000 and breach of trust.
It is concerning that those placed in positions where society expects utmost trust and confidence, being the police and those caring for our elderly and incapable, have been found to act dishonestly and fraudulently. Sadly, this case is a stark reminder of a wider trend across Canada and countries with aging populations, where those who have diminished capacity are taken advantage of for financial gain.
 Betsy Powell, “Toronto cop guilty of faking will to steal dead man’s $834,000 estate”, accessible at: https://www.thestar.com/news/gta/toronto-cop-guilty-of-faking-will-to-steal-dead-man-s-834-000-estate/article_6bb00872-b285-52fc-b3fa-709fa290668a.html?
 Michele Mandel, “Suspended cop’s reality show fraud case nears an end”, accessible at: https://www.healthing.ca/news/local-news/mandel-suspended-cops-reality-show-fraud-case-nears-an-end
 (supra note 1)