The Inside Job
Robert Konashewych was a young police officer with expensive tastes, two girlfriends and a mountain of debt. Heinz Sommerfeld was recently deceased with a large unclaimed estate. Problem, meet solution
As teenagers, Robert Konashewych and Candice Dixon made a pact straight out of a rom-com. Growing up in Oakville, he was the handsome older guy from school she’d see behind the cash at Loblaws when her mom dragged her out grocery shopping. She was the cute girl one grade below he’d call for relationship advice. They jokingly promised that, if they were both single at 35, they’d get together. When they ran into each other in 2011 at the Brant House on King West, the dance floor seething dry ice, Konashewych mentioned the pact. By then, they were in their late 20s, and it seemed less like a joke and more like a possibility. “Married, right?” he asked her. She shook her head no. “So,” he said, “I still have a chance?” Dixon was statuesque, with long, gleaming brown hair and arched eyebrows. Mike Tyson once told her she had a body built by Ferrari. Konashewych was tall too, and muscular, with short hair and the shadow of a beard. The pair made their way outside, sat on a bench and talked into the night.
They started off with marathon phone conversations and slowly got to know each other again. She was an only child, her parents long divorced. He was the shy baby boy of his family, with three older sisters. She’d worked in marketing at MAC Cosmetics. He’d worked security at Woodbine Racetrack. His father, Bob Konashewych Sr., was a long-time Toronto cop, and Robert decided to join the force too. When he struggled to get into the policing program at Sheridan College, his dad made a couple of calls. He graduated in 2008 and took a job as a beat cop at 52 Division, in downtown Toronto. The work was steady and the money was good, more than $100,000 a year.
Before long, the couple was travelling together. They went to New York, standing alone in Times Square as they watched Hurricane Sandy make landfall. They flew to Turks and Caicos for the annual Dixon family vacation. Dixon had grown up wealthy. Her father, John, is president of M. J. Dixon Construction, responsible for various libraries, schools, fire stations and shelters across the GTA as well as projects for clients such as Air Canada and the Department of National Defence. She handled marketing for philanthropist and socialite Sylvia Mantella and the Mantella Corporation, a real estate development company. Konashewych couldn’t match her family wealth or her high-flying lifestyle, and she didn’t expect him to. She did, however, expect him to move out of his parents’ house in Oakville. A few months after that night in the club, Konashewych moved into the condo Dixon was renting on King West.
She noticed right away that he was bad at managing his money. Konashewych came into the relationship loaded with debt. He’d lived beyond his means for years, clubbing and drinking, travelling and eating out. He spent on penny stocks that fizzled out and watched the savings he did have evaporate in high-risk investment gambles. Still, he didn’t seem overly stressed by his finances. He was used to it: his parents had struggled with money and fought about it endlessly.
Dixon’s family was confident and loud. Her father was one of six children—his siblings include renowned fashion designer David Dixon and interior designer and HGTV star Glenn Dixon. Konashewych was a quiet presence at gatherings, drowned out by the dozens of cousins and friends around the table. Just once, Dixon recalls her father expressing doubt about her boyfriend, who seemed too passive and dispassionate for his fiery daughter. “Don’t you get tired of always being the boss?” he asked her. But Dixon liked that the pair shared the same sly sense of humour and taste for adventure. She wanted to get married and have children with him, and he told her that he wanted those things too. She liked that they spent a lot of time together but also retained their independence. Her family thought it was strange that she travelled without him, going to Cabo or the Hamptons with her friends. She loved it. They’d grown up together; she felt like he understood her. She used to joke that her boyfriend listened so well that talking to him was like going to confession. “I just felt like he was my people,” says Dixon, now 39. He seemed like someone she could trust.
In 2014, they began to shop for a condo of their own. The following year, they bought a two-bedroom penthouse near Fort York, overlooking the lake. They split the $631,305 evenly, with Dixon making the down payment and Konashewych paying the mortgage every month. They flew to St. Barts, danced together in clubs and were photographed at charity galas like the Power Ball. They talked about starting a business, a razor subscription service for cops called Blue Line. When they fought, it was usually about Konashewych injecting steroids to get jacked; Dixon hated it, and when she found vials stashed in the fridge at home, she threw them away.
Sometimes, Konashewych picked up paid-duty gigs at concerts, sporting events or government offices. One of his side jobs was with the Office of the Public Guardian and Trustee, a branch of the Ministry of the Attorney General that most people never hear about—until they need its help. The OPGT is known as the decision-maker of last resort. More formally, it oversees financial, legal and personal care for mentally incapable adults who don’t have family to help them. About half of the agency’s clients collect disability payments from the province. On the first of the month, its office on Bay Street turns into a storefront. Clients arrive to pick up their cheques, and police officers like Konashewych come by to supervise.
On one such day in 2014, a staff member on the eighth floor leaned over to her colleague, Adellene Balgobin, and told her that there was a cute officer downstairs. She knew how badly Balgobin wanted to meet someone to start a family with. Balgobin was 26 years old, the youngest of four kids in a close-knit family, the kind of soft-hearted person who would coo over pictures of babies. Born in Trinidad and raised in Scarborough and Pickering, Balgobin was guarded, quiet, composed. After graduating from U of T, she’d signed with a temp agency and landed a job at the OPGT. She’d gone from contract to contract, role to role, since then, making her way up the ladder.
Balgobin took the elevator downstairs, long dark hair swishing at her waist, and quickly caught Konashewych’s eye. After a little flirting, the pair exchanged numbers. A few weeks later, they went on their first date. There was just one problem: he wasn’t single—and she had no idea. Konashewych ran with a group of cops who drove flashy cars, and he began to take Balgobin out with them, showing off his beautiful new girlfriend. He told his friends that his relationship with Dixon had been toxic from the start, that he stayed with her for the money. With Balgobin, he was in it for the sex. For Balgobin, it was love.
It was easy to keep the women apart. They occupied different worlds within Toronto. Dixon attended high-society balls and charity galas. She travelled broadly and often. Balgobin—whom he always contacted using a burner phone or through Snapchat—had modest means and ambitions. She lived in a studio apartment near the Rogers Centre and worked with society’s elderly and most vulnerable. She brought snacks to Konashewych’s office down the street on her breaks. She was dutiful, eager to please. Over time, her position at the OPGT, where she oversaw the ongoing care of clients and their financial decisions, would prove surprisingly lucrative.
To see Heinz Sommerfeld with his nieces and nephews was to watch him come alive. He had no children of his own. He’d never married; Heinzy, as his mother called him, was quiet that way. Reclusive, even. He’d come to Canada from Germany at age 11 with his mother, stepfather and younger half-brother, Peter Stelter, moving into a home on Gladstone Avenue. Seven years apart, the brothers shared a room until well into their 20s. In all those years, Stelter couldn’t recall his brother bringing home a friend.
Sommerfeld was an orderly, fastidious young man. His vinyl collection lined his shelf, and Stelter was under strict orders not to mess with his brother’s things. His keen eye for detail led him to a job as a draftsman for the Ministry of Transportation, where he drew intricate maps and worked for 36 years.
After Stelter got married and moved out, Sommerfeld got an apartment of his own and eventually bought a pink brick house on a quiet Mississauga street called Maple Gate Circle, which he shared with his cat. Stelter could find his brother difficult to talk to; it sometimes felt like he was digging for the tiniest details. Stelter’s children—Nicole, Peter, James and Rebecca—helped keep the family close. Despite being aloof, Sommerfeld was a devoted uncle. “My brother came to all my children’s christenings, first communions, confirmations. Any birthday, any holiday we had, my brother was there,” Stelter says. The family hiked at Rattlesnake Point together on Thanksgiving and went to church together, a Pentecostal service they attended once during the week and twice on Sundays.
In 1995, Stelter’s wife, Gail, got sick, and caring for her became his main preoccupation. When Sommerfeld suffered a severe bout of vertigo and Stelter didn’t reach out, Sommerfeld grew resentful. The brothers’ relationship fractured. Sommerfeld stopped answering the phone and the door. They lived 15 minutes from each other, and Stelter would drive by on his way home, looking for signs of life—the blink of a blind or the flutter of a curtain. When Sommerfeld’s next-door neighbour Donna Patterson invited him to spend Christmas dinner with her family, he declined but ate the leftovers she brought by. “He was content to be alone,” she says.
Sommerfeld had a stubborn streak that ran deep. When he decided, after 20 years of carefully preparing his mother’s taxes, that he no longer wanted to do them, the task fell to Stelter, and Sommerfeld could not be persuaded otherwise. Unbeknownst to Stelter, Sommerfeld was suffering from dementia. He likely could no longer make sense of the rows and columns of numbers. When Stelter stopped by the house in 2004 to tell Sommerfeld that his mother was dying, Sommerfeld refused to visit her. By then, Stelter knew well enough not to ask why. It was the last time he would see his brother alive.
Throughout 2005, Sommerfeld retreated further into himself. When his mother died, he didn’t go to her funeral, partly so that he wouldn’t have to socialize with her friends. He had always loved ambling around Osprey Marsh, a swath of forested parkland a few blocks from his home. But his neighbours noticed that he was growing thinner from hours spent walking the marsh. They wondered if he was declining mentally. Once, he left his car in a nearby parking lot, forgot about it and reported it stolen. Before long, they worried that when he went out for walks, he wouldn’t be able to find his way back.
Sommerfeld grew paranoid and agitated. Knots in the tall pine fence separating his backyard from the neighbours’ became holes he was convinced their six-year-old son had drilled to spy on him. He called the police, but by the time they arrived, he’d forgotten why he called. He was sure his neighbours were shooting light beams into his windows, telling them,“I know what you’re doing with the lasers” and calling the police again. Even his beloved cat seemed lost when it wandered next door and, eventually, away.
Finally, in September of 2008, Sommerfeld went after a neighbourhood woman with a hammer. When the police arrived, they took him to Credit Valley Hospital under the Mental Health Act. There, a doctor diagnosed dementia caused by Alzheimer’s and declared Sommerfeld incapable of managing his own affairs. By then, he was 69 years old, hard of hearing, struggling to carry a conversation and unable to remember his phone number or birthday. When asked if he had any family, Sommerfeld said no. An answer born of dementia or estrangement or that stubborn streak, it would prove pivotal to the next decade of Sommerfeld’s life. With no recorded next of kin, Sommerfeld officially became a client of the OPGT the following week. That left his fate—his finances and health-care decisions—in the hands of the state.
The agency sent an investigator to catalogue Sommerfeld’s possessions. The home was sparsely furnished: brown leather couches by the fireplace, empty boxes of cat litter spread out across the basement floor. The investigator sifted through meticulously kept records, the dusty ephemera that make up a life. A German letter Sommerfeld had written as a 16-year-old to his family at the end of his school term. A letter from the Ministry of Transportation congratulating him on a perfect year of attendance in 1988, and another from 1990. A stack of expired passports. What the investigator didn’t find was a will.
The OPGT assigned Sommerfeld a caseworker, and he was transferred to a senior’s residence in Mississauga. The caseworker visited Sommerfeld in his new home, helping to make arrangements to sell his house. Its sale, along with his considerable savings and pension, would fund his care for the rest of his life.
That Sommerfeld didn’t have a will or documented next of kin wasn’t unusual—many OPGT clients don’t. But it is rare for someone with substantial assets, and he had an $834,000 estate. A 2018 audit of the agency found that just six per cent of its clients had assets of more than $100,000. That made Sommerfeld a member of a very small group. His medical care and financial decisions would be entrusted to the most senior client representatives at the agency, each overseeing anywhere from 80 to 100 cases at a time. In January of 2017, a new public servant took over the caseload that included Sommerfeld’s estate: Adellene Balgobin.
Konashewych and Balgobin went to the movies, attended parties with friends, met up at hotels, had sex in his black BMW. She couldn’t get enough of him. When months passed and she’d never seen his apartment, she started asking questions. He confessed that he shared a two-bedroom condo with his ex but claimed that they were no longer romantically involved and were living as roommates. Her friends disapproved. She could be naïve about love. As an undergrad, she’d had a long-distance romance with a family friend who lived in Trinidad. The pair eventually married, but the relationship fell apart because neither would agree to relocate. Balgobin also had a years-long affair with a married colleague at the OPGT. Her friends worried that her new boyfriend, Konashewych, was lying to her, that she’d gotten herself mixed up in another dead-end relationship. They also noticed her beginning to change. She now carried designer handbags and got a part-time job at Saks Fifth Avenue for the staff discount. When Konashewych urged her to get breast implants, she had the surgery. “Hope you like your new boobs,” she wrote in a card for his birthday later that year.
As hard as Robert Konashewych had worked to keep his girlfriends apart, his two worlds were about to collide
After a year of dating, Balgobin wanted more out of the relationship. She had a framed picture of the two of them together on her desk at work but had never met his friends or family. He would promise to spend time with her and then cancel when something came up. Suspecting that he wasn’t being truthful with her, she turned to social media. It didn’t take long to track down a profile: Candice Dixon. Balgobin finally had a name to pin to her suspicions. And despite her boyfriend’s assurances to the contrary, Dixon and Konashewych appeared to be very much together: Dixon’s Instagram account was full of pictures of the couple at events around town. This time, when Balgobin confronted him, he didn’t deny it. He was with Dixon, he told her, and he wouldn’t leave her. He couldn’t. His acquisitive lifestyle had driven him deep into debt, and he couldn’t afford to live the same kind of life without Dixon. Balgobin was hurt and upset but still in love. She decided to stay with him anyway.
Consumed with thoughts of her boyfriend and their love triangle, she confided in her colleagues about her situation, first over weekly after-work drinks and then at the agency on an almost daily basis. One day, she was leaving him. The next day, she was taking him to Punta Cana for his birthday. She texted one friend, “I’m not doing this anymore. I’m ready to move on with my life.” Their affair would last another three years.
The OPGT has a history of employees exploiting the clients under their care. In 1990, a cache of client gold and jewellery worth $40,000 disappeared from a vault in the OPGT’s Bay Street office. Police couldn’t lay charges because sloppy record-keeping obscured the trail of evidence. By 2004, the agency was handling more than $1 billion in assets for 9,000 clients. An audit by the province found that the OPGT’s fund managers were mismanaging its clients’ money, in one instance making choices so ill-informed that they frittered away nearly all of a client’s $3-million stockholding. In 2007, investigators discovered that an OPGT employee named Preadorshani Biazar had been siphoning money from 52 of her mentally ill, homeless and dead clients over 12 years, forging documents and holding fraudulent debit cards in her clients’ names. She stole a total of $1.23 million, using the funds to pay down the mortgage on her Leaside home, buy a BMW X5, and take vacations to Dubai, Las Vegas, Mont-Tremblant and across Europe with her unemployed husband and their three children. (She pleaded guilty in 2009 and was sentenced to three years in prison.)
Nearly 10 years after that, in 2018, the auditor general released another damning report. The agency still wasn’t safeguarding the interests of its now 12,000 clients. Weak internal controls, especially when it came to tracking clients’ assets, allowed for the possibility that those assets could get lost or misappropriated, the audit found. The agency expected its employees to know how to identify fraudulent ID presented by people claiming to be heirs to estates but never trained them in how to do that. By 2020, a follow-up report found that less than half of the suggestions made in 2018 had been implemented. Faced with a growing client roster of aging Boomers, the OPGT’s needs are increasing, forcing its staff to do more with less and leaving more details overlooked.
Seniors are among society’s most vulnerable populations, and elder abuse rates are on the rise, according to the World Health Organization. Scammers now tailor their schemes to the elderly, who are often isolated and have money in the bank. And their target base is growing: according to Statistics Canada, seniors will make up almost a quarter of Canada’s population by 2031. It’s no surprise, then, that financial abuse is one of the most common kinds of elder mistreatment.
By 2017, Heinz Sommerfeld had been in OPGT care for nearly nine years. He’d long stopped having visitors at the nursing home. As the years passed, the list of his diagnoses grew longer: Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, diabetes and possible signs of schizophrenia. On June 19, at the age of 77, he died in his room, alone.
Sommerfeld’s death set in motion a bureaucratic cascade that occurs each time an OPGT client dies. The staff at the nursing home called Balgobin, the senior client rep responsible for his file, who began wrapping up his accounts: notifying his insurance company, cancelling his pension benefits with Service Canada and arranging his burial with a funeral home. Then, the file was transferred to a colleague in the Trusts Reporting Unit for what’s called the close-out.
Konashewych and Balgobin saw an opportunity: a dead man’s estate, sitting unclaimed. Konashewych could pose as Sommerfeld’s long-time friend, and the money could help him pay off his debt. It could mean the start of something new for them.
But, after Balgobin passed along the Sommerfeld file, her colleague in Trusts found a note in the hundreds of pages of records about a possible half-brother named Peter Stelter. The colleague looked him up in the phone book and called. Stelter hadn’t heard from his brother in years. When he confirmed their relationship, she told him that Sommerfeld had died a week earlier. And because there was no will, he’d inherit a substantial estate. Stelter was stunned. He had assumed his brother would live well into his 80s, as Sommerfeld’s father had. When he asked where his brother’s body was, she told him he’d already been buried.
On June 26, 2017, after learning that her colleague had located Stelter, Balgobin tweaked the plan. She made a note in the agency’s system: she’d received a voicemail, she claimed, from a man who said that he possessed a copy of Sommerfeld’s up-to-date will. He produced the will, which bore the signatures of Sommerfeld and two witnesses named John David William Liminski and Jonathan Steven Aseltine. No one at the OPGT was able to confirm that they were real—the witnesses, names plucked from the sky, didn’t exist.
Later that day, the Trusts representative called Stelter back. She’d been mistaken, she said; there was a will after all—and he wasn’t in it. A man named Robert Konashewych would inherit the entire estate. Stelter was surprised. “A will just doesn’t pop up after an hour,” he says. He’d never heard of Konashewych, so he and his wife hired a lawyer to look into it. When the lawyer reported that the will looked credible, Stelter figured there was nothing left to do. They’d already spent $2,500 and couldn’t afford to pursue the matter further. He didn’t know anything about the last decade of his brother’s life, he told himself. Sommerfeld must have met someone he cared for enough to leave them his life’s savings and his home. “We decided then that, if the lawyer says it’s okay, it must be okay,” he says. “You have to trust someone, right?”
The will wound its way through estate bureaucracy. The next step was for Konashewych to apply for probate, the court-appointed analysis and transfer of estate assets. Because no one could track down the witnesses of Sommerfeld’s will, the courts required an affidavit from the OPGT stating that Sommerfeld’s signature was real. Balgobin signed it. She was, she wrote on the notarized legal document, a senior client representative with the Public Guardian and Trustee who had overseen Sommerfeld’s financial affairs when he was alive. She could verify that the signatures matched the ones on the documents she’d accessed before.
Konashewych began to act as estate trustee for a man he insisted was his friend, all while leaving traces of a friendship that didn’t exist. He signed an affidavit saying that he’d met Sommerfeld back in 2005, when he was 22 and working security at Woodbine Racetrack, and that the next year Sommerfeld, age 66, had given him the will. He’d approved the design of the headstone where Sommerfeld was laid to rest in Meadowvale Cemetery. A Christmas card dated 2008 and signed “Robert” appeared in Sommerfeld’s file.
The couple thought they’d executed the perfect crime: victimless and profitable. But, as hard as Konashewych had worked to keep his girlfriends apart, his two worlds were about to collide.
One October morning, Dixon’s uncle David stumbled into a chance encounter at a Yorkville salon. The receptionist—whose husband worked at the OPGT—was insisting that his niece’s long-time partner, Rob, had another girlfriend. When Dixon heard about this possible affair, she was shocked. She went to the salon herself, dragging Konashewych with her, and confronted the receptionist, who began to share details about her boyfriend that a stranger couldn’t possibly have known. She demanded to know the girlfriend’s name, pushing until the receptionist finally said, “Adellene.” Outside, Konashewych denied everything. Dixon grabbed his phone and typed Adellene into his contacts. The search returned only a photo of an old business card, which he insisted he had obtained for work during one of his shifts at the OPGT. Unconvinced, Dixon hailed a cab and the pair headed for the agency, where they demanded to see Balgobin. As they stood at the front desk, Konashewych texted his mistress. “Don’t come out,” he typed.
Dixon tried emailing Balgobin at work: “I know you know who I am. Please give me a call.” Balgobin wrote back, saying that she couldn’t help her. Dixon wrote again, explaining what had happened at the salon and asking the other woman for the truth. “Rob and I literally spend insane amounts of time together, and when we aren’t together, we are constantly in communication, so it almost seems next to impossible, but I don’t really know after all this,” she wrote. “I wouldn’t be the first person to be taken for a fool, right?” Balgobin didn’t respond.
Later, Balgobin left a voicemail on Dixon’s cellphone claiming to be a stalker, not a mistress, in an attempt to explain it all away. “I met Rob a long time ago through work. I really liked him. I tried to get him to notice me. I found him online with his family, and I found out he had a girlfriend, and I got more and more jealous. I wanted to date him, and when I saw him on TV, I told people in my office that we were dating, but that was a lie,” she said, the words tumbling out in one long, tearful, high-pitched sentence. “It just became so real. I’m so sorry if I caused you any problems, but I tried to break you up thinking Rob would want to date me and take me away.”
Konashewych and Balgobin began to panic. If Dixon found out about the affair, she might also discover their fraud. To persuade Dixon that the relationship wasn’t real, Konashewych sent cease-and-desist letters from a lawyer to his own mistress and her colleagues, threatening a lawsuit if they didn’t stop telling people that he and Balgobin were dating.
To Dixon, the idea of a stalker obsessed with her boyfriend seemed more plausible than what the receptionist had told her: that her partner was in a full-fledged relationship with someone else. She found herself wandering around in a fog, constantly looking over her shoulder for a face she didn’t recognize. If someone was stalking them, she reasoned, shouldn’t they report it to the police? Konashewych demurred, insisting that it would affect his career, and told her he’d have one of his detective friends stake out the OPGT office to take Balgobin’s picture. Then, at least, Dixon would know whom she was looking for. He produced a photo of one of Balgobin’s colleagues, a South Asian woman around her age, saying it was her. Konashewych continued to pit the women against each other in order to keep them apart and his plans intact. “She’s losing her mind,” he told Balgobin. “She won’t stop until she finds you.” Balgobin began to ask her friends to walk home with her at night, convinced that Dixon had hired an investigator to find her. “I’m being followed, I don’t wanna leave my house,” she texted a friend.
At home, Konashewych and Dixon were fighting about more than a supposed stalker. Dixon was fed up with Konashewych’s lack of ambition and his inability to manage his money. Still, by the summer of 2018, he was shopping for engagement rings with her mother. She was thinking about breaking up.
On a late-July morning in 2018, Konashewych walked into the OPGT office one last time. He brought a friend with him, a security guard who lived in his condo building, because he needed a witness for what he was about to do. After they signed all the paperwork, Konashewych walked out into the summer sun holding a cheque for $637,474.37, all of Sommerfeld’s money that the OPGT held in its coffers.
By October, Konashewych had received Sommerfeld’s entire estate from the OPGT—$788,857, after legal fees and other disbursements. He began paying down his debt—almost $92,000 to a line of credit—and dumped the rest, hundreds of thousands of dollars, into a trading account.
It should have been cause for celebration, but he was wary. His carefully laid plan had run into some bad luck: his victim did have next of kin, and that person had been found. In a final, ham-fisted attempt to prove his friendship with Sommerfeld, Konashewych called Stelter. He said he was considering holding a memorial. Would Stelter be interested in participating? “Who are you to my brother?” Stelter asked him. The question hung in the air. Konashewych said he was just fulfilling the wishes of his elderly friend. Stelter knew something wasn’t right and hung up.
In November, Konashewych and Dixon had another fight, and she finally asked him to leave. He moved out of the penthouse and into Balgobin’s studio apartment. One afternoon, Dixon received a letter at the condo from TD Bank addressed to Robert Konashewych, care of the estate of Heinz Sommerfeld. She thought nothing of it, threw it in a drawer and went to St. Barts for the holidays.
Konashewych was barred from their shared condo. Security threatened to call the police if he refused to leave. “I am the police!” he yelled back
In January, Konashewych called and asked her out to dinner. He missed her and wanted to talk about getting back together. When they met, he asked if any mail had come for him. She showed him the envelope from TD and asked what it was. He had no idea, he said. It must be a banking error. He’d never heard of the man. He made a joke about Heinz ketchup and tucked the envelope in his pocket.
A few weeks later, another piece of mail arrived for Konashewych, this time from a law firm, also addressed to the estate. Dixon opened it. (She says this was an accident. He says it was illegal. Either way, its contents were privileged.) When she saw his mistress’s name, she became incensed. “What is this? Why is Adellene’s name on this?” she texted her ex. “Is this some kind of sick joke? This was the thing you knew nothing about.…You’re doing something illegal.” He responded immediately. “No, the only thing illegal was you opening my mail.”
For so long, Dixon had been telling herself that the affair must have all been some big misunderstanding, wanting to trust the man she’d spent seven years with. “I just kept thinking, This can’t be real,” she says. But, in that moment, the truth finally crystallized. She began to scour the condo. She opened one of their storage lockers, rummaging through boxes of Konashewych’s things. Out came tickets to a Las Vegas nightclub bearing Balgobin’s name, a purple dress, a Christmas card Balgobin had signed “your sex slave.” Back in the penthouse, she found Viagra stashed in a garment bag hanging in a closet and an envelope holding an SD card. She slid it into her laptop, and the screen filled with photos. Pictures of strange women posing with her boyfriend, other women surrounded by friends, women in lingerie. There were dozens of photos documenting what looked to be multiple affairs, spanning the years of their relationship. Only one of the pictures was of her. “My life,” she says, “was a lie.”
Dixon emailed a smattering of the pictures to Konashewych with the subject line “really faithful.” He showed up to the condo within the hour. The concierge barred him from entering. Security threatened to call the police if he refused to leave. “I am the police!” he yelled back.
As their separation dragged on, stalled by disagreements over what to do with their condo, the relationship became increasingly hostile. Konashewych left a separation agreement in their mailbox. Dixon posted racist memes on Facebook and Snapchat, taunting Balgobin. In one, she captioned a photo of a South Asian man in a green turban with “Adellene’s St. Paddy’s Look? I can’t help myself.” In another, over a photo of a woman dressed for Caribana with feathers waving from her head, she wrote, “Someone’s Hindu Trini babe” and a crying-laughing emoji. (Asked about this later, Dixon said, “I’m allowed to have feelings.”) Dixon offered to buy him out of their shared condo, and Konashewych refused. He countered with an offer $2,000 higher. “What is $2,000, a Coach purse? Lol, no thanks,” she replied. He accused her of changing the locks. She accused him of changing the password and locking her out of their mortgage account. When Dixon’s elderly mother posted on Facebook, “If you hurt my daughter, I can make death look like an accident,” Konashewych reported it to his boss at 52 Division.
Incandescent with anger, Dixon began to conduct some detective work of her own. She secured Sommerfeld’s estate file through her lawyer and tracked down Stelter through the Facebook profile of his wife, Gail. She also reached out to one of Balgobin’s cousins on Facebook to learn more about her family. In early March, Dixon gave a statement to the police, and they began building a case. Detectives requested access to bank and phone records tying Konashewych and Balgobin together. When Konashewych drove his BMW, registered in his mom’s name, home from a shift, detectives followed him back to the new apartment he was renting with Balgobin on Elm Street.
On December 14, 2019, police froze Konashewych’s bank accounts, seizing $684,061 from the investment account opened after he’d received the estate. Detectives on the fraud squad served him notice as he finished his night shift at 52 Division. He was suspended, with pay, pending an investigation. Four days later, Balgobin was called into a meeting and also suspended, with pay, from the OPGT. Balgobin hired a lawyer, who advised her to break up with her boyfriend. Again, she decided to stay with him. In July of 2020, they were finally arrested and formally charged: Konashewych with one count of fraud over $5,000 and Balgobin with the same plus a charge of breach of public trust. (Konashewych declined our requests for an interview; Balgobin didn’t respond.)
This past July, Konashewych and Balgobin stood trial just a few blocks from where they had once spent their lunch breaks together. Their defence teams characterized Dixon as a vengeful ex-girlfriend, a scorned woman who had fabricated a nefarious plot to get even, and reiterated that the will was legitimate. They said that the alleged fraud was a series of simple coincidences, run after run of bad luck. “If I were them, I’d stop going out in the rain,” quipped Crown prosecutor Sam Walker in his closing arguments. It took a jury less than 24 hours to find the couple guilty. Balgobin sank in her chair. Konashewych Sr., in the back row of the gallery clutching his cane, hung his head. Konashewych, his reaction hidden behind a black face mask, stared straight ahead.
Dixon scoffs at the woman-scorned defence. “Revenge would have been sleeping with a friend,” she says. “Revenge wasn’t making up a crime. Because that implicates you; your life also gets swept up in this process.” She has since relocated to Palm Beach, Florida, with her miniature Labs, Ducky and Dawlin. Last year, she went into business with Konashewych’s now estranged sister Cheryl, opening a beauty salon called This Place Blows. “When Rob and I finally separated, and I walked out of court, I said, ‘I never have to talk to his family again,’” she says. “And now I’m in another type of marriage with his sister.” The day after the guilty verdict, she boarded a private jet to see the yacht that her new boyfriend, a developer, had purchased, and then she sailed to the Hamptons. Meanwhile, still on paid leave, Konashewych will celebrate his 40th birthday in October, two days ahead of his sentencing hearing.
On the stand in July, Stelter recalled the last time he’d driven by his brother’s house on Maple Gate. He saw a child on a swing in the backyard and knew for certain that his brother was gone. Stelter, a retired tradesman, told the court that he and Gail, a former teacher, lead a quiet, frugal life off a country road in Haliburton County. They skate with their grandkids in the winter and cast fishing lines into the lake in the fall. For so long, he’d been just scraping by. Now, the $684,000 left of the estate would go to him. It was a windfall of fairy tale proportions and rightfully his, but it didn’t feel that way. The years had slipped by so fast. He’d always assumed that there would be time to make peace with his brother.
A weekly newsletter of unforgettable sagas, scoops and scandals from Toronto Life’s long-form archives