ELIZABETH, N.J. (CBSNewYork) — Six New Jersey co-workers pooled their resources on a Mega-Millions lottery ticket, when one of them claimed a huge jackpot, the others got mad and got lawyers.
Americo Lopes refused to speak with CBS 2’s Dave Carlin outside of the Elizabeth courthouse, where he is on trial for fraud.
Five former friends and construction company co-workers want Lopes to fork over $4-million dollars after taxes for each of them. The men claim that the $24-million jackpot belongs to all of them, they say that the tickets were bought for the entire group.
Lopes’ attorney argues that Lopes also bought a personal ticket — the winning ticket.
One member of the group, Candido Silva Sr., came to tears on the witness stand. Silva told the court that the group shared an “all for one and one for all mentality” and agreed that the winnings would be shared.
“I’d never think he’d do what he did,” said Silva.
The massive jackpot came on November 10, 2009. Shortly after that Lopes took a four-month leave for foot surgery. When he returned he quit on the spot and confirmed that he was a now a millionaire.
Initially Lopes’ co-workers were happy for him, that is until one of them looked up the day that he won. It was a day that had each contributed two-dollars for lottery tickets.
Lopes’ attorney Michael Mezzaca told the jury that just because his client was secretive about his winnings, it does not necessarily make him guilty.
Lopes currently lives with his wife in a modest house with a cluttered backyard. It remains unclear if he has done anything with his fortune.
The trial will focus on how the lottery pool was organized. The defense maintains that no one even bothered to ask Lopes for a copy of the ticket.
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