Sad but True Winners Stories & Good Advice For Winners

Store clerk is charged with claiming lottery ticket of patron
Women sue Whittaker over 2004 incident
Lottery winners' good luck can go bad fast
Financial planners: Winning the lottery isn't always a dream

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Originally Posted: Dec 8, 2005
Revised: March 15, 2006

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Store clerk is charged with claiming lottery ticket of patron


RANSON, W.VA. - A Ranson convenience store clerk faces possible jail time and as much as $6,000 in fines after police say she tried to claim a $20,000 prize from the West Virginia Lottery, according to Jefferson County Magistrate Court records.

Misty Ann Crawford, 26, of 28 Windswept Lane, is charged with forgery, counterfeiting, etc., (of a) lottery ticket. She also is charged with larceny of bank notes, checks and writings of value and book accounts and obtaining money, property and services by false pretenses, court records state.

The forgery, counterfeiting, etc. (of a) lottery ticket charge carries a possible punishment of a fine as much as $1,000 and/or not less than a year in jail. The other two charges each carry a possible punishment of one to 10 years in jail and a fine of as much as $2,500, according court records.

On Feb. 20, Crystal Adams entered the Roc's Shell station at 400 S. Fairfax Blvd. in Ranson and bought several 20 Grand Instant lottery tickets, records state.

Adams scratched off the tickets, gave them to Crawford and asked the clerk if any of the tickets were winners, records state.

Crawford looked at the tickets, walked away and then told Adams she had a $2 winner, records allege.

Adams decided to buy a $2 lottery ticket with her winnings, said Ranson Police Department Capt. Mickey Ballenger, who investigated the case.

Crawford put the tickets that Adams gave her under a counter and gave Adams the additional lottery ticket, court records allege.

Adams scratched off the additional $2 lottery ticket, realized it was not a winner and left the store, records state.

The next day, someone told Adams that Crawford cashed one of her lottery tickets from the previous day. Adams went to the Roc's station and told the manager what had happened, according to records.

The manager obtained a surveillance tape and viewed it. The Ranson Police Department was called, Ballenger said.

The surveillance tape shows Adams buying and scratching several tickets and giving them to Crawford, records state.

Crawford is seen looking at the tickets, walking away from Adams and putting the tickets on top of a machine under a counter, records allege.

Adams is seen scratching off the losing $2 lottery ticket she bought with her winnings and leaving the store. Crawford is seen taking the tickets from under the counter and scanning them on a lottery machine, according to records.

Later that day, police allege Crawford went to the Country Roads store in Middleway and had store workers scan a ticket. Crawford obtained a prize claim form and sent it to the West Virginia Lottery to claim a $20,000 prize, records state.

State lottery officials sent Crawford a check, but it was intercepted before Crawford received it, Ballenger said.

State lottery spokeswoman Nancy Bulla said Monday that the case was under investigation by the West Virginia Lottery and the Ranson Police Department and that she could not comment.

Bulla said the situation should serve as a reminder for lottery players to be careful with their tickets. She said it is important for players to sign the back of any winning tickets because then only that person can claim the prize.

Crawford is free on $5,000 bond.

Women sue Whittaker over 2004 incident

Charleston Gazette
March 04, 2006

BECKLEY — Powerball jackpot winner Jack Whittaker has been sued by two women who allege he assaulted them in a Summers County camp in November 2004.

Summers County residents Sarah Mantell and Michelle Gross, both in their 20s, filed the lawsuit in U.S. District Court in Beckley.

Beckley lawyer Richard E. Hardison Jr., who represents the women, said his clients were never physically hurt during the incident but they were scarred emotionally.

Mantell was with five other friends, including Gross, at the Bobcat’s Den in Hinton on Nov. 22, 2004, when Whittaker gave her $200 to buy drinks and play the jukebox, according to the lawsuit.

Later, Whittaker allegedly asked Mantell, Gross, two other women and two men to leave with him. They all went to a camp in rural Summers County where Whittaker went to an upstairs bedroom.

The women allege that a drunken Whittaker eventually demanded sex from them, grabbed their clothes and stuck his hand in Mantell’s pants. They say he later accused them of robbing him and waved a gun and made threats. According to their lawsuit, Whittaker fired several shots inside and outside the cabin.

Hardison said he filed the lawsuit in federal court because Whittaker now lives in Virginia and he is confident Whittaker, a Summers County native, has influence in the county.

The women are asking for money for numerous reasons including emotional distress, fear, humiliation, embarrassment, and loss of enjoyment of life. They also want an undisclosed amount in punitive damages. Their allegations include intentional assault and battery, intentional infliction of emotional distress and violations of state laws including sexual assault, brandishing a weapon and wanton endangerment.

Whittaker has not been charged with any crime in the incident, according to Hardison. He said his clients hope to resolve the lawsuit, which was filed in January.

“My girls aren’t out to really ding him, I mean they would take a reasonable amount if he would settle,” Hardison said.

In 2002, Whittaker won the single-largest lottery payout with a cash option of more than $113 million.

Lottery winners' good luck can go bad fast

By Oren Dorell, USA TODAY
Mon Feb 27, 2006

Eight workers at a Nebraska meatpacking plant who won the $365 million Powerball jackpot last week may want to take heed of the downside of such good fortune.

Not that anyone would turn down such a windfall, but other heavenly jackpots did not lead to paradise. Some big winners have filed for bankruptcy within a few years, been attacked by family members and been besieged by requests from people they didn't know.

Steve Granger, 53, of Henderson, N.C., won $900,000 in the West Virginia Lottery in September. He received about $600,000 after taxes and put most of it away for his and his wife's retirement. But he says there have been unpleasant moments.

"All of a sudden everybody knows your business, everybody knows what you have," Granger says.

At a party recently, Granger heard someone say in an ugly tone, "There go those lottery people," as he and his wife passed by. A man he hardly knew asked him to invest in a gold mine. "I went through a phase where everybody was grabbing me thinking I was going to give them luck," he says.

Within days of winning a $41 million share of a Powerball jackpot in 2001, Patricia and Erwin Wales of Buxton, Maine, were sued by co-workers who claimed to be co-winners. The lawsuit was dropped, but lawyer Terrance Garney said a new beginning for the clerk and the lawn-maintenance man was "not an easy transition." The Waleses were beset with requests by friends they didn't know they had and by investment companies who wanted to handle their money.

They hired a team of lawyers to help them, and set aside $5 million for a non-profit charitable foundation that contributed $263,000 in 2005 to community and religious causes in and near Buxton.

Others have had difficulty with easy money:

• William "Bud" Post, who won $16.2 million in the Pennsylvania Lottery in 1988, had a brother who tried to have him killed for the inheritance. Post lost and spent all his winnings. He was living off Social Security when he died in January.

• Two years after winning a $31 million Texas Lottery in 1997, Billie Bob Harrell Jr. committed suicide. He had bought cars, real estate, gave money to his family, church and friends. After his death it was not clear whether there was money left for estate taxes.

• Victoria Zell, who shared an $11 million Powerball jackpot with her husband in 2001, is serving time in a Minnesota prison, her money gone. Zell was convicted in March 2005 in a drug- and alcohol-induced collision that killed one person and paralyzed another.

• Evelyn Adams, who won the New Jersey Lottery twice, in 1985 and 1986, for a total $5.4 million, gambled and gave away all of her money. She was poor by 2001, and living in a trailer.

Gerry Beyer, who teaches estate law at Texas Tech University, has written about people who come into sudden wealth - such as lottery winners, sports figures, actors and actresses - and how they end up losing it. Many don't realize that if they spend their money, rather than investing and living off the earnings, "there's nothing to replace it," Beyer says.

Under an investment plan, the Nebraska Powerball winners' $15.5 million, after accepting the lump sum and paying taxes, could produce a yearly income of about $500,000 a year.

Financial planners: Winning the lottery isn't always a dream

By DEENA WINTER / Lincoln Journal Star
February 26, 2006

It seemed as though Michael Begin was deliberately trying to rain on Lincoln’s parade when he and his partner, Darl LePage, sent out a Wednesday warning that Nebraska’s Powerball winners’ joy may be short-lived.

“The reality is that 70 percent of all lottery winners will squander away their winnings in a few years,” the Connecticut financial advisers said in a news release. “In the process, they will see family and friendships destroyed and the financial security they hoped for disappear.”

Ouch — if you’re one of the lottery winners, that is.

The authors of a book about how success often destroys families, Begin and LePage said they know firsthand the destruction sudden wealth can cause.

“We know from studies and our own internal research that when new wealth is created in a family, there is a 90 percent probability that all of that wealth will be gone by the third generation,” LePage said in the release. “And that’s among families who have worked hard for years to achieve success. When people receive sudden wealth, like in a lottery jackpot, the numbers are much worse.”

Worse yet, said the advisers who have served clients in 18 states, winning a bunch of money doesn’t build character. “(It) reveals character and magnifies all of the good and weak traits the winner lives by.”

Ouch again — that is, if you don’t have much character.

Begin said in a telephone interview they are not just trying to drum up some business with Nebraska’s newest multi-millionaires. Their point was to say it’s not just about the money.

Begin said he has had a couple of lottery winner clients, and has studied and worked with people whose net worth is $5 million or more.

Statistics show lottery winners often go bankrupt, get divorced and have family feuds, he said.

“No one worries about the true impact on lives,” he said. “They just start spending. They spend it on toys, they spend it on luxuries. Bad investments. Scams. There’s people coming out of the woodwork trying to take advantage of people. They just become a huge target.”

Part of the problem is that many lottery winners are average Joes who have no experience handling huge sums of money. So, they buy and invest without realizing what it will cost to maintain the houses they buy or to pay their taxes.

Soon, they’re backed into a corner — even if they started out with $15.5 million.

Here’s Begin and LePage’s advice: “Take a deep breath. The money is only a tool, not a magic cure. Seek out solid professional advice, and make sure your team of advisers works together closely, and that they focus on your family before they plan for your money.”

Texas Lottery Denies Cheating Lotto Texas Winners
But excerpts from Commission Meetings refutes the TLC claims
of innocence. The complete story including a winners complaint letter
to the DA. (Special note to those winners who called inquiring about
the way you were paid - your suspicions. I've included a spreadsheet
that includes the rate that was applicable at the time of your win
so you can now figure out if you received your full amount.
) Click here.

What is Problem Gambling? Click here.

Real Life Examples of Gambling Related Crime and Corruption. Click here.

Sad but True Winners Stories (1), Click here

Read story about a Texas $31 million winner
who committed suicide (1999). Click here.

Sad but True Winners Stories (AOL), Click here.

One Winner - One Loser - What a story.
Everyone should read this one.
Three other stories
include an interview with a winner, a news story
regarding the Oct 13 Lotto Texas machine malfunction
and the huge sales decline for New York's in state
Lotto game since joining MM.
Click here.

Store Owners and Employees Admit Stealing
$100,000 Powerball Ticket ...
Don't let this happen
to you. Click here.

Canada Has A Gambling Problem. And so will Texas.
Governments hooked on gambling. Here's WHY we need to oppose
expanded gambling in Texas and why the TLC turns me OFF.
Click here

About that 2005 Texas Lottery Demographics Study.
See what the "real" truth was! A Texas Tech Study. Click here.

Thank You Dallas Morning News ... Their study of lottery sales
by districts confirms who really plays the games of Texas. Click here.

Just point and click ...

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