A photo taken of Port Washington's Bob Obojski in 1975 in which he is seen seated between two of Japan's greatest baseball stars, at left, Shigeo Nagashima and at right Sadaharu Oh. This picture was taken at the Hiroshima Carp ballpark when Bob was working on his book The Rise of Japanese Baseball Power.
Bob Obojski is a name that will be familiar to many of our readers. Over the years, he has written several letters to the editor and won the Pride in Port Essay Contest in 2007. If you recall, this 40-year Port resident, has written eulogies for many longtime residents who have passed. Unfortunately, Mr. Obojski, who had lived on Orchard Farm Road before moving to Manorhaven, has been the victim of theft, and worse, the thief was someone he trusted implicitly.
Lynn Engstrom, a 59-year-old Port woman who had been "looking after" 78-year-old Mr. Obojski, was sentenced to 3 to 9 years in prison and restitution in the amount of $211,603 by a Nassau County judge after being convicted of stealing that amount from the senior citizen, according to Nassau County District Attorney Kathleen Rice, who made the announcement last week.
The DA advises that Engstrom was convicted by a jury on Jan. 28 of Grand Larceny in the Second Degree, two counts of Grand Larceny in the Third Degree, Grand Larceny in the Fourth Degree, two counts of Criminal Possession of Stolen Property in the Third Degree, and Criminal Possession of Stolen Property in the Fourth Degree.
Rice said that in the fall of 2003, Engstrom befriended the then 74-year-old author and professor. He had offered Engstrom assistance in writing a children's book. While nothing came of the project, Engstrom and Mr. Obojski remained good friends. In April 2004, a life-threatening leg injury forced Mr. Obojski into the hospital and in-patient rehabilitation centers through the end of the year. During that time, Engstrom helped him in paying his bills and was given full power of attorney by Mr. Obojski in April 2004.
From April 2004 through August 2006, Rice said, Engstrom proceeded to use his bank accounts as her own personal cash machine, stealing approximately $211,000, despite being given $129,000 in cash gifts by him for his appreciation of her assistance in paying his bills and brokering the sale of his Port Washington home. He even named Engstrom the sole beneficiary in his will. Engstrom made hundreds of ATM withdrawals from Mr. Obojski's accounts in $500 and $1,000 increments and would then deposit that money into her own accounts, often just minutes later at the same ATM, the DA's office reports.
Rice further advises that after the victim's bank accounts had been cleaned out, Engstrom borrowed $9,000 against a money market account the victim had. When the bank called requesting repayment, the victim learned that his bank account, once valued in the hundreds of thousands of dollars, was down to just $10.03.
Mr. Obojski told Port News that Engstrom came from a "wealthy, privileged" family and that at one point he really had "a strong affection for her," describing her as "charming and sophisticated."
He said that when he had a 10-month stay in a physical rehabilitation center after losing a body part, he was under heavy medication and his "judgment was clouded."
Mr. Obojski said that she took an expensive coin and stamp collection, in addition to raiding his bank accounts. He also said that she "blocked his mail." All along, he thought she was paying his bills, but then discovered that his phone, cable and property tax bills had not been paid.
Mr. Obojski had high praise for the Port Washington Police Department and the Nassau County Police Department who he says were most helpful to him.
He also told Port News that at the trial it only took the jury 10 minutes to arrive at the verdict, and this, he noted, "was after six long days of testimony."
In spite of it all, Mr. Obojski remains in good spirits and told us "he has not lost his sense of humor." He also reported that he continues to write today and still feels like a young man.
Handling the case for the District Attorney's Office is Assistant District Attorneys Brian Murphy and Everett Witherell of the DA's County Court Trial Bureau. The defendant is represented by Marc Gann, Esq. and Daniel Russo, Esq. Reportedly, Engstrom plans to appeal the case.