- 30.8 Million Tickets Printed - Bonus Cashword - Only 47 Top Prizes -
- Lucky Waco Woman Gets One and Wins $35,000 -
But the business who cashed her check got screwed ...
(To respect the winner's wishes - as per the claim form - I am
not going to
reveal her identity. It's not necessary anyway.)
woman traveled to Austin on April 18, 2008 to collect and
collect $35,000 - the top prize from Bonus Cashword #1097.
The Texas Lottery declared the ticket a winner and validated her claim.
There was never a dispute of any kind as to who the ticket belonged to.
Her check, less $8,750 deducted for taxes, was a whopping
$26,250. Can you imagine the thrill of suddenly having $26,250 in
your hot little hands? Boy, how exciting that must be. Anyway,
the Texas Lottery did give her a W2-G and the Texas Lottery
pay her taxes to the IRS.
So she goes home and a friend cashes the check for her.
She endorses the check so her friend takes the check to
a local business and gets it cashed.
Everyone is happy.
BUT, the business owner misplaced and/or ultimately lost the check.
So the business owner does the logical thing - she calls the Texas Lottery
and explains to
them that she cashed the check and needs a replacement check.
Oh lordy - this was
a HUGE, HUGE, HUGE mistake. Granted, it shouldn't
have been a mistake but to someone like me, I know way too much about
the Texas Lottery and how they handle claims, pending claims, phone
disputed claims and how they stall players before paying claims. I saw
the handwriting on the wall as I was hearing this story. I knew
exactly where the story teller was going.
OK - OK - I won't go there. When legal received this call from
the business owner who misplaced the check, the Texas Lottery
SHOULD have told her that she would need to contact the claimant and
the claimant could get a replacement check for her. The Texas Lottery
SHOULD have made it very clear that they could NOT issue her a check.
Further, they should have just contacted the winner at that time so the
winner could have handled the situation. Which would have been the end
of it. Not to mention the Integrity and Honesty this act would have shown.
But did they do this? Hell NO. They stalled the business owner by telling
her that they would need to check into it and would need to investigate
first. In reality, the only thing they needed to "investigate" was to call
and see if the check had cleared the bank. Knowing them and from
many winners stories, they probably
told her they'd get back to her too.
So they waste taxpayer money and time by sending an investigator out to
interview the claimant where they obtained a signed statement reflecting
she did cash her check and she was the winner. They also interviewed
the winner's friend who actually cashed the check for her.
After all this, the Texas Lottery contacted the winner and asked if
she would be willing to come in with the business owner to pick up a
replacement check. The winner said, "YES, absolutely. Just tell
when." The lottery tells her that they will get back to her.
Well, you guessed right. The Texas Lottery NEVER did get
back to her. The winner
was left to think/assume that the
business owner must have
found and deposited the
check or she thought that the Texas Lottery simply
wrote another check. Bottom line, the winner was
under the impression that everything was OK.
It would seem that the Texas Lottery was taking it upon themselves to
make sure there was no hanky panky - in other words - they
making it seem like they were trying to protect the business
in their call for the player to "maybe" come in for a
check. But as it turns out, it was the Texas Lottery that
be trusted to do the right thing. Seems like the Texas Lottery
tries to keep
whatever they think they can get away with.
Did they make that call to the winner in hopes that she would eventually
business who cashed her check was taken care of? The
TLC did - after all - have her sign a statement that she got her
So it stands to reason that the winner could have easily
that the Lottery took care of the business owner when
didn't call her to come back in for another check.
be construed as a premeditated plan to keep that money?
It Is None of the Texas Lottery's Business
Let me be very clear here. The Texas Lottery overstepped
their boundaries. It was none of their business with what did
or did not occur between the winner, her friend or the place that
cashed the check. It still isn't their business. They had absolutely
NO rights to go to that winner to have her sign anything. The
ONLY thing that was the business of the Texas Lottery was that
one of their checks did NOT clear the bank. They did not do
what they were rightfully and legally suppose to do with that
money. This is the SECOND case where I know that they
intentionally interfered - butted in - with a winner's money.
And it was to the lottery's financial advantage too. Very sad.
Well, after all this and 3 years later, the Texas Lottery
Aug 18, 2011 they would just keep the money
themselves. Then, days later - because they KNEW the check
was either "misplaced" or "lost" - they safeguarded themselves
- they stopped payment on the check on August 29, 2011.
What perfect timing too - this action put more money in
legacy account and just in time to close out their fiscal year.
By statute, they are required to send a letter to the
giving the winner 30 days to come forward with
to this check. I wonder, did the Texas Lottery
diligence by sending such a letter prior to
making this decision?
- I Surmise -
Lottery staff likely reasoned to themselves - "The
winner got her money
business most likely wrote
loss off their tax return. Maybe the business is out of
business or the owner is ill, deceased or moved. The
winner certainly shouldn't get it twice and we
need this money so we'll just keep it."
<grin - but not really funny if this
is how they really thought >
Folks - this was an UNCASHED prize check
money should have been turned over to the
July 1, 2011. No matter what the circumstances were.
After 3 years - the money is
considered abandoned. Period.
April 2009, April 2010, April 2011.
Yep - that's 3 years
since the check was issued in April 2008.
Now let me show you the documents to support what
I've just told you. They validated the
ticket as a winning
ticket, paid the claim, paid
taxes for her,
on her check, never
check but never
turned the funds over to the
even though it
was an UNCASHED prize check.
If all this
enough - they labeled the check as
than "uncashed" in their journals which - to me - and in
my opinion - is falsifying a document.
Here we go ...
The Official Claim form submitted ... Proof there was/is a claim ..
IF you'll look in the upper right hand corner of the claim form, you will see
that this claim was paid on April 18, 2008 - check # 3536768. The prize
amount was $35,000 but the Texas Lottery deducted 25% for taxes
making the net amount of the check $26,250. To collect prize
money, a player must sign the back of the ticket and submit
the ticket with the claim form. As you can see, this was done.
According to the official claim form, a check
was issued to her in April 2008.
In May 2012 (year not a mistake) - I tried to obtain a copy of
the canceled check. After much ado - in a letter
dated Aug 8, 2012,
I received the following
response from Open Records ...
Hmmm ... no canceled check ... Exactly what I heard.
That check never cleared the bank.
Equally important, my
open records request actually alerted the
Texas Lottery that
something was amiss about this claim. They
could have corrected
this situation a long time ago.
they gambled that I'd never get to the bottom of it. Guess
greed and desperation overrules honesty and integrity
and they underestimated me and my tenacity! <grin>
Remember too, Aug 31, 2012 was the day they secretly
wrote off the $622K and Nov 2012 was when staff
the Commissioners the Final 2012 Audit Report.
This should help you to understand why I
just said "greed and desperation."
So, I wondered, "OK- well, maybe the Texas Lottery
issued a replacement check to this woman or the
business owner who misplaced the check?"
"After a reasonable search of our records, we are
unable to locate any documents responsive to your request."
Hmmm ... gee, no replacement check was written.
Well, surely they stopped payment on the check -
Then the Stop Payment was released ...
Yepper ... they stopped pay on Ck #3536768 on Aug 29, 2011.
But, but ... why Aug 29th, 2011
- shoot - they decided to
keep that money on the 18th of August, 2011 ... Hmmm ...
(Before I show you where they decided to keep the
money on Aug 18, 2011, let me show you this first)
Well, OK. Maybe the Texas Lottery turned the money over to the
Comptroller of Texas in 2011/2012 since they stopped payment
on the check. So, on Sept 13, 2013, I asked
if the Texas Lottery had turned the player's money over to
them as unclaimed property (an uncashed
Their letter, dated Sept 26, 2013, said in part ...
It is extremely important that you know that I verbally
that the money I was looking for was a net amount
$26,250. They knew this even though neither writing
indicated that amount. I've got to say - which
is off the
subject too - that working with the Comptroller's
Records has been a very pleasant experience. They talk
you where as the Texas Lottery won't. Imagine that. <grin>
Please do not think that I actually thought the money
had been turned over - the truth is - I really knew
that the Lottery had kept her money but I had to go
through the verification process. I'd been searching
for this money for over a year.
Now I needed to find out where the money went.
I heard it was used to reduce the shortage in the Prize
Payment account. So I go in search of papers to prove
what I heard. And boy, did I ever face opposition!
Here's a series of emails between myself and the Texas
Lottery then ultimately to the AG and Members of the
Texas Legislature. This was an
Open Records nightmare!
My original request for the document
that would show where this money went ...
Katelind, I would like to receive a copy of the
Aug 2011 Journal Voucher showing funds written off.
Texas Lottery Responds
We need clarification on this request shown below.
We had previously sent you the General Ledger entry
for August 2012 showing funds written off. (See attached email).
Are you now seeking the same type of information for August 2011?
Please let me know.
I reply - 9-24-13
Yes, that is what I asked for.
Texas Lottery Responds
This email is in response to your Public Information
Request received September 18, 2013.
You requested: I would like to receive a copy of the
Aug 2011 Journal Voucher showing funds written off.
After a reasonable search of our records
we are unable to locate any documents
responsive to your request.
I respond ...
Regarding your statement below, "After a reasonable search of
our records we are unable to locate any documents responsive
to your request." - I would strongly urge the Texas Lottery to look again.
Let me revise the request to say, I would like to receive
copies of any/all Texas Lottery Commission Journal Vouchers
dated between Aug 10 - Aug 25, 2011. I'm revising the
language just in case the Commission is using
a play on words to keep it from me.
I will be faxing the AG a copy this message as I believe
documents exist that should have been sent in response
to my original request dated Sept 18, 2013.
Texas Lottery Responds ...
This email is in response to your Public Information
Request received October 7, 2013.
"I would like to receive copies
of any/all Texas Lottery Commission Journal Vouchers
dated between Aug 10 - Aug 25, 2011."
With respect to your request, we have determined
that the cost to produce such information will be in
excess of $40.00. Pursuant to Texas Government Code,
Chapter § 552.2615 we have attached an estimate
of the cost to provide the documents.
My response ...
Well this is interesting. You went from "no documents
to a cost of an est $103.50 to research
request dated Sept 17, 2013.
OK. So, let me revise the request for a third time
to be a lot more specific to see if we can reduce the
costs and get the original document that I requested
initially without stalling or deceiving me any longer.
I would like to receive copies of all Texas Lottery Journal
Vouchers that are dated August 18, 2011 prepared by
Michael Guidry and approved by Kelly Stuckey that deals
with check #3536768. Please include the screen shot
of the check and any other documentation that would
accompany the voucher in question. Please do not
alter the document in any way.
I am faxing the AG a copy of this response. I need this
document NOW and there is no doubt as to its existence.
How long does the law allow the Texas Lottery to play
these games with me including denying the existence
of a document that is readily available?
It is becoming more and more apparent to me that the
Texas Lottery will go to any lengths to cover up
inappropriate - perhaps illegal - actions.
FYI - I also contacted and asked a number
of Texas Legislators for assistance.
FYI - It is my belief that this money - was written off from
and the funds were placed into another acct thus
increasing the balance in the acct to reduce the shortage.
Oct 16, 2013
Finally received document in question.
They are shown next ...
Texas Lottery Journal Voucher - Dated 8/18/11 -
As I understand it ....
This document shows they are debiting the old dormant "legacy" account
the new account. This way they could move the funds into the
"unclaimed funds acct" that will be turned over to the State - specifically the
General Revenue Fund. Also, because the new acct was being closely
monitored, they could say they found additional monies that came
from the old account - because they "voided" a check - thus
reducing the shortage on their books and
giving the state
money that wasn't expected.
. Under "Game Code" it does identify game #1097
check number does match the check number on the claim form.
Pay special attention to the "Description"
Folks, this was NOT an "unclaimed" prize check The check
was lost - misplaced and they KNEW it in 2008. Would one be
prudent to think of this as an example of
If Texas Lottery staff can not speak
correctly - then they should not work there.
It was an "UNCASHED" prize check - by law
it's defined as "Abandoned Money"
There is no such thing as an "unclaimed prize check" as
NO checks are issued without a name to put on the check.
Checks aren't written unless they have a name and a claim.
have a claim form or a signed ticket prior to writing a check.
And why did they write "voided" rather than "stopped pay?"
There is a HUGE difference in the language. To me,
"voided" means they never issued a check - they messed
it up so they need to "void" the check number. You
can't "void" a check that is out there in the world
just waiting to be cashed. You have to stop
payment on it to ensure it's never cashed.
I consider the language deceiving too.
Looks like they are being deceptive in their record keeping too.
By all rights and in my humble opinion -
time for outside investigations that
could result in prosecutions.
This is just one more winner's story to add to
my list. I could
write a book on the things the
has done to players/winners.
How much prize money (uncashed checks) was used to reduce
the differences between what the bank said the lottery had in their
account versus what the lottery "thought" they had in the account?
Remember - the variance was as high as $1.89 million
and somehow they reduced it to $622K by Aug 31, 2012.
That's when they quietly wrote off $622K.
Does the Comptroller have money that you forgot about?
Go see (Comptroller of Texas website) and collect! Click here.