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NJ jury says lottery jackpot winner must pay coworkers millions

Lottery mascots play in a ball pit set up in Grand Central Station in New York on February 1, 2010 to promote the largest lottery agreement in US history between Powerball and Mega Millions. Players in 33 jurisdictions will be able to purchase tickets for both at official lottery retail locations. TIMOTHY A. CLARY / AFP / GETTY IMAGES

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AP Photo
(CBS/AP) ELIZABETH, N.J. - A New Jersey jury unanimously decided that Americo Lopes had cheated his coworkers out of their share of a $38.5 Mega Millions jackpot lottery pool on Wednesday.

The panel rejected the 52-year-old's claims that he had won the jackpot on a personal ticket and not with the ticket that he had bought as part of the lottery pool.

Attorney Rubin Sinins, who represented the five men, said each was awarded $4 million because the jackpot was worth $24 million after Lopes chose the cash option.

However, attorney Eric Kahn, who also represented the former colleagues, told the New York Times that details on how much each man would receive and how much might owe in taxes needed to be worked out.

The men began playing the lottery together in 2007 while they worked for Berto Construction Inc. When Lopes hit the Mega Millions Jackpot in Nov. 2009, he told his boss he wouldn't be returning because he needed foot surgery, which he never reportedly received. He also filed for unemployment benefits after claiming the $17,433,966 prize after taxes.

His wife, Margarida, testified her husband finally called one of the men in the group in March 2010 and told him about winning.

"Our clients all feel vindicated" by the verdict, Sinins said. "This has been their position all along; they've been challenged in their position and the jury saw it their way. They are very gratified."

  • Crimesider Staff

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