Co-Worker To Pay 5 N.J. Men Millions In Lottery Suit

Americo Lopes lottery winnings lawsuitELIZABETH, N.J. (AP) -- Five construction workers in New Jersey, vindicated by a jury, must wait before learning exactly how much they'll share of a $38.5 million Mega Millions jackpot that a co-worker who was part of their lottery pool claimed as his own in 2009.

A jury in state Superior Court in Elizabeth reached a unanimous verdict on Wednesday that Americo Lopes had cheated the men out of their share of the prize.

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 each might owe in taxes needed to be worked out.

The men started playing the lottery together in 2007 while they worked for Berto Construction Inc. in Elizabeth.

When Lopes hit the Mega Millions jackpot in November 2009, he told his boss he wouldn't be returning because he needed foot surgery, which he never received. He also filed for unemployment benefits after claiming the $17,433,966 prize after taxes.

His wife, Margarida, testified that 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."

Lopes left court with his wife shortly after the verdict. Speaking in Portuguese, Lopes said he had been robbed, The Star-Ledger of Newark reported.

His attorney, Michael Mezzacca, was disappointed.

"The fact is Mr. Lopes won the lottery by himself with his own money and numbers that he picked," Mezzacca told the newspaper.

When the verdict was announced, the five plaintiffs embraced. They told The Star-Ledger they'll continue to play the lottery as a group, but would copy the ticket.

"I have a lot to do," plaintiff Carlos Fernandez said. "My granddaughter was born yesterday. I have to buy her a present she'll remember."

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You know I am confused. I pay the lotto with a group at my office and while it's true one person holds all the tickets all the tickets are copied and everyone gets a copy of the tickets. Who as a group doesnt copy the tickets. That's asinine. Oh well I guess they learned there lesson...

March 16 2012 at 9:09 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Why do humanoids insist on being so corrupt and unfair...what a sad, sad place we are in. My grandmother always said "money is the root of evil." I am most inclined to agree she had it right.....there are some despicable people amongst us.

March 16 2012 at 5:46 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Not enough money for you Fat Boy? Some more tacos ought to make you broke by this time next year.

March 16 2012 at 2:55 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Not enough money for you Fat Boy? I hope you're broke by next year.

March 16 2012 at 2:55 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Is he in the country legally???

March 16 2012 at 1:54 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Money really can bring out the worst in much for trusting your friends. Can't believe though the copies of the ticket were not made in the first place! Smart group players know that each person should receive a copy of the ticket(s) as well as the list of all of the players who contributed to the purchase of the ticket(s). These folks are really lucky they even got a was his word against their words. If there was a list of who paid into the ticket from the start presented to the lawyers the case would've probably never made it to court.

March 16 2012 at 1:26 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

They lie about everything.
We have WAY to many of them.
What do you call a moster yacht at the bottom of the ocean with 100 Lawyers on board?
A good start....

March 15 2012 at 4:13 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

So glad that justice was done. What nerve this pig and his pig wife did to those other folks. He needs to go to jail for fraud in regards to the unemployment issue. Maybe they should take all the money and split it with the other folks and leave him high and dry.

March 15 2012 at 4:08 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

So does this mean he will have to repay any unemployment benefits he may have collected as well? If they took the food stamps away from the female lottery winner back east, they sure can sue this clown for any benefits he collected after claiming his winnings. What a pig. Karma, baby.

March 15 2012 at 3:39 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

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