Jury says N.J. lottery winner Americo Lopes has to pay back cheated co-workers | Economy | NewJerseyNewsroom.com -- Your State. Your News.

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Jury says N.J. lottery winner Americo Lopes has to pay back cheated co-workers

lotterytickets030712_optBY BOB HOLT
NEWJERSEYNEWSROOM.COM

New Jersey construction worker Americo Lopes and five former co-workers were in a lottery pool for three years. Each player paid $2, and Lopes bought 12 tickets a week.

On Wednesday, a New Jersey jury agreed unanimously that Lopes cheated his coworkers out of their share of a $38.5 Mega Millions lottery win back in November 2009.

CBS News reported that Lopes had told the jury that he won the jackpot with his own set of numbers, and not those chosen for the men’s lottery pool.

Lopes collected $17,433,966 by himself after the win, and then quit his job, saying he was having foot surgery, which never happened. According to ABC News, Lopes finally told his co-workers he had hit the lottery in March 2010. Then player Candido Silva Sr. later learned that the date of Lopes’ win matched a date of the group’s ticket pool.

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Lopes said he often bought tickets for the lottery pool along with his own at the same time.  He told ABC that he won with lucky numbers he had been playing since winning $40 in the Canadian lottery.

Silva cried on the witness stand.  The case was largely based on circumstantial and emotional evidence.  The money had been frozen after the five men filed suit in 2010. According to the New York Times, Silva’s son said, “If you have a clear conscience, you have nothing to worry about.”

The New Jersey Lottery’s website provides guidelines for those playing lottery pools. They suggest getting names and phone numbers of everyone in the pool, particularly those buying and holding the tickets.

They also mention knowing where the tickets are being purchased, and making copies of your tickets, including their serial numbers.

 

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