Toronto cop and public servant sentenced to seven years in prison for stealing dead man’s $834,000 estate

A Toronto police officer and a former Ontario public servant were led out of court in handcuffs Tuesday after a judge handed them each a seven-year prison sentence for cooking up a bogus will that deprived a dead man’s estate of $834,000.

“This was a complex, highly planned and long-lasting fraud operation,” Superior Court Justice Sean Dunphy said, reading parts of his reasons for sentence.

Last June, a Toronto jury convicted Const. Robert Konashewych, 40, and Adellene Balgobin, 36, of fraud over $5,000. She was also found guilty of committing a breach of trust while working as a client services representative with the Ontario Public Guardian and Trustee. The government agency manages the financial affairs of mentally incapable individuals.

The former lovers, wearing face-covering black masks they donned throughout the trial, remained stoic as they listened to the judge read his blistering sentencing reasons. He excoriated them for using their positions of trust and undermining public confidence in two critically important public institutions.

The trustee “looks after the care and property of the most vulnerable members of society. The Toronto Police Service is responsible for maintaining and enforcing the rule of law in our community,” the judge said.

Balgobin was entrusted with the management of Heinz Sommerfeld’s personal affairs, which gave her access to information about his finances and personal life. After developing Alzheimer’s, Sommerfeld’s mortgage-free house in Mississauga was sold and he was living in a long-term care facility.

He died in June 2017 at 78 without leaving a will, although his estranged half-brother was the rightful heir.

A month later, the OPGT received a copy of Sommerfeld’s last will and testament supposedly signed on March 28, 2006. It bequeathed the Sommerfeld estate to Konashewych, who at the time was romantically involved with Balgobin. The Crown’s theory was that the much younger cop never knew the reclusive older man and that he cobbled together a will after Balgobin gave him details culled from Sommerfeld’s OPGT file.

The document contained witness signatures of two people who never existed. 

Konashewych’s long-time girlfriend, Candice Dixon, discovered his two-timing, and the fake will, after they split up and she opened mail addressed to the “Estate of Heinz Sommerfeld c/o Robert Konashewych.” She went to Toronto police and an investigation was launched into one of their own employees.

Balgobin is no longer employed by OPGT. Konashewych has been under paid suspension since his arrest in 2020.

A prison sentence will almost certainly mean Konashewych will lose his job as a police officer.

Prosecutors Peter Scrutton and Sam Walker were seeking “significant” penitentiary sentences of between eight to nine years in order to “denounce this conduct and achieve general deterrence.”

Defence lawyers Michael Lacy, who represented Konashewych, and Julianna Greenspan, Balgobin’s counsel, called the Crown’s proposed sentence “crushing,” and asked the judge to allow the pair to serve sentences of between one and three years in the community.

Dunphy said while he accepts that Konashewych and Balgobin have blemish-free backgrounds, “unfortunately this is a category of crime where offenders often present in just such a manner and it is their very respectability and unimpeachable character this is exploited to perpetuate the fraud or keep it from being discovered.”

The judge also had sympathetic words for the rightful heir, Peter Stelter, who was deprived of an inheritance at a time when he was undergoing severe financial stress that led to the loss of his home. 

“Money may be fungible, but it is clear that many unique opportunities to have bettered Mr. Stelter’s life and that of his grandchildren were lost and lost forever,” noted the judge. While the money was constrained from Konashewych’s bank account, Stelter has not collected any of the funds.

Konashewych and Balgobin are seeking to be released on bail pending appeal of their convictions.


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