If you were looking for a reason why you might want to avoid getting caught up in an office lottery pool, this situation might just give you 38 million reasons why.
While working as construction workers in New Jersey, Americo Lopes and five of his cohorts (Candido Silva Sr., Jose Sousa, Daniel Esteves, Carlos Fernandes, and Candido Silva Jr.) used to pool their money together for years in order to have a better chance at winning the lottery. They didn’t have the luck like most people, but in 2009, after sending Lopes with money to buy Mega Millions tickets, they all won! Unfortunately for the five men, Lopes didn’t let them know. That’s right folks, Americo Lopes took the winning lottery ticket, cashed it in, and after deducting taxes, he walked away with more than $17 million. Dirty, much?
Thinking he was very slick, according to the New York Times, Lopes collected the winnings and told his job that because of foot surgery, he needed to quit doing construction. But if The Wire has taught us anything, it’s that word on the street spreads fast. One of the men in the pool found out Lopes won, but he lied and told the men he won after quitting. However, a quick search online found that the man was a winner while still working with his friends, and the five brothas in the pool out millions were being played like losers. So the smart thing to do, which they did, was take him to court. During the proceedings, the men seemed more hurt than angry, because they looked at Lopes as a good friend, while one, Candido Silva, Sr. looked at him like a son. According to the New York Times, he broke down on the stand at the act of alleged betrayal.
Lack of written evidence had Lopes’s lawyers questioning if the men were lying, and the “winner” stuck to the story that he bought a ticket separate from the pool that helped him strike it rich. But in the end, the Union County jury believed the five men and said Lopes would have to share the winnings. A huge chunk of taxes was taken out of the winnings (obviously, 17 million and 38 million = a big difference), and since the lawsuit started, a freeze was put on the money. Therefore, the tax situation has to be dealt with before all of the men can get…how do you say…broke off. But while watching the TV last night, local news outlets were claiming each man might be able to walk away with around $4 million each. Not bad!
When the verdict came in yesterday, Lopes was overheard saying in Portuguese, “They robbed me.” Nice try Mr. Lopes, but it sounds like it’s the other way around…
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