Whose Money Is It? Fight Over Lottery Jackpot Goes To Court In NJ

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.

What do you think should happen with the money? Let us know in our comments section below…

  • If sense were common...

    They may have erred in not getting copies, but HE was responsible for the lottery pool so it is HIS responsibility to make sure the others have copies, so that if the winning tic is actually a non-pool tic, he can prove it. In any event it’s a moot point; Just saw on tv the jury ordered him to pay up. This guy will be broke in five years with the way he does business with people.

  • Genie

    If the co workers have photocopies of the numbers played and it shows that the ticket was purchased with their money, then it should be split, otherwise everyone is SOL!

  • judy latty

    WTF! None of us won, so drop it!




  • dhall

    I thionk they should award all of the money to me. I could use some of it for sure. Ya think they will do it??? I hope so.

  • Mark

    For fun with offices that are that stupid to make copies for each other.

    Go to ten different stores and buy one ticket each with the same number.

    Create trusts in a state where the winner can remain anonymous. Your investment is $2 since you use everyone else’s $$. The number wins.

    Sure you reduce your chances, but the return is better.

    You hand the ticket to the group, of which the group ticket is worth only 10% of the total jackpot since there are 9 other winning tickets according to the news. So if the jackpot were 40 million, the group only wins 4 million.

    You turn in the other 9 tickets under the 9 different trusts for the other 36 million.

    The group totally forgets about the other 9 tickets being excited for their one win and you walk away with 36 million.

    • Mark

      oh and plus another $400,000 from the group ticket!

  • Joel

    In the end, the attorneys will get most of the cash anyway.

  • Joel

    1. Do not go into lottery pools

    2. If you must ignore rule #1 above, have everyone sign the back of the actual tickets. That is the only true legal way to identify ticket ownership.

    • Joel

      And if you have too many people to sigh the back, establish a legal entity for the group to claim and disperse the proceeds and have the name of the entity on the back.

      Personally I go back to rule #1…Do not do a pool lottery group. That goes with the other rule of money…never lend to family members.

  • Sorry Guys, You Lose!

    Whenever we would buy lotto tickets for our unit, we would all sign the back of the ticket, and I would then distribute a copy to each who had contributed. It’s the old adage, ‘Money changes everything’ that comes into play here. I wonder if those who have lost out have a leg to stand on! Good Luck, I don’t think so…

    • Not so quick to lose

      Yes they will probably get there share and he would also be stuck paying lawyer fees.There are so many cases like this and 90% of the time the person stealing the whole ticket loses.

  • SunnyInFL

    A hint for people who pool lottery tickets: Play the same numbers each time- that way, if those numbers win, there’s no doubt who owns the winnings.

  • Marci

    When I bought tickets with a group, we purchased them and made a copy of the tickets for everyone

  • Robert

    Moral of the story: Buy your own lottery ticket. Money isn’t evil…it’s the love of money that’s evil.

  • Mariea

    Do what’s right for God’s sake, SHARE. You should be happy you won anything!!, Why give your extra money to lawyers instead of your Friends!!!

    some people are just Assholes

    • Doodlebug2222

      We know they all give him the money for A ticket >> He bought A ticket >> A ticket won. So, he should have to prove he bought more than A ticket. Which, I doubt. If he cannot prove he bought more than one ticket, then he should have to split the money.

  • Roy

    Lottery tickets must be sign on the back otherwise is payable to whom ever shows up to collect, is that simple.

    • They will win

      It is not that simple where do you come up with that.There are many cases like this.They can prove they were in a pool can he priove that he bought other tickets.

      • Mike

        Like Roy said, everyone sign onto the ticket, if it wins, they share…if that ticket doesn’t win, and another ticket he bought wins, they have nothing to complain about…

  • Roger

    The lawyers are the crooks also, if he had a conscience he would tell him to not waste the court costs and his fees and split the money with the co-workers.

  • juim

    the old “i bought ny own ticket seperate from you guys” is as old as the hills

    • Doodlebug2222

      He should prove this by a receipt or pay them.

  • DMa

    I agree if they did buy it as a group then he is a POS for doing that, but if you go into a pool like that, you photo copy all the tickets write each persons name on it who is a part of the group and give everyone a copy, otherwise you’re asking for something like this to happen, especially with that many people involved and that much money at stake.

  • Jesse

    Whenever I would do a lottery pool, I would not buy myself a personal ticket. I would be happy with whatever I received after splitting a jackpot. Plus, I would not have to worry about this type of stuff either.

  • HillClimber

    This won’t address much of the problem, other than to say that in a group where I belonged, one persons did hold all of the tickets. However, every participant got a photocopy of all of the tickets purchased. When the winnings n any drawing were small, we bought extra tickets on the next draw plus the regular contribution.
    It worked well for us, and I don’t recall any problem ever.

  • Funkdawg

    Another good reason NOT to play with groups of coworker’s!!

  • Gary S

    If it was a group ticket, everyone should have a copy of the tickets that were purchased for the group. If not I have to go with the defendant. It may be he lied but when you buy lottery tickets in groups, you as a group need to figure out a way to make sure this kind of thing doesn’t happen. If the group made no effort to record the tickets purchased all I can say is oh well.

  • Wyla

    If they don’t have a copy of the ACTUAL winning ticket as being one they ALL bought, good luck getting anything. THEY, not him, will have to prove the winning ticket was one they ALL bought or they won’t get a dime. Sad but true.

    • They will win

      Not true they can prove they were in a pool .He has to prove that he bought other tickets.Does not help he was so sneaky.But many times this happens and almost all end up getting something if not all.

  • tommy

    He should not of gone back, take the money and run…..

    • sb

      “have” not “of”…you can’t “of” something OR you may write it as “should’ve”

  • norfolk n clue

    i’ll give them a share of my lottery winnings with a glass of shut the hell up.

  • Fricsaid

    Assuming this was a group bought ticket, this guy is a POS for doing this. All the money in he world won’t help him sleep at night. God, I’m glad I don’t have a love of money.

  • sizziline

    I think they all should share the winning its only fare !

    • crystalangel336

      fair………not fare

      • JuJu_Bee

        Well excuuuuuse us Ms. Merriam Webster. Some people apparently are not as bright as you are. It must make you feel so special to know how to spell. I guess you didn’t have a tiny little thought in your head about actually contributing a post that has something to do with the article??

        • Your Big Daddy

          if you cant even spell you cant have a legit contribution anyway, because your stupid. So thank you for not forcing us to read mis-spelled garbage and as someone up top states have a nice tall glass of shut the hell up.

          • jr


          • Not from NJ


            …just saying.

          • Grammarian

            Okay… I’m a proofreader with an English degree. Don’t throw stones if you, yourself, can’t manage to use appropriate spelling and grammar. Here’s a re-do of your less than stellar post:

            If you CAN’T even spell, , you CAN’T have a legit contribution anyway, because YOU’RE stupid. So thank you for not forcing us to read MISSPELLED garbage. And as someone up top states, “Have a nice, tall glass of shut the hell up.”

            If you’re going to criticize someone else for not being able to spell, it’s a good idea to be sure that your spelling AND grammar are fine-tuned so that you, yourself, are not committing similar errors. Yeesh.

            • nada U


        • TLC

          Attn Hate Americans. You can go home now and leave our great country alone. You are a Looser….

          • Rhiannyn

            *Loser….”loose” means the opposite of tight.

    • Chinook

      Nope. They don’t get a share. I wouldn’t go in a pool without a copy of the ticket prior to the draw. They were stupid to trust thier friend. Money champions all friendships.

      • Fricsaid

        “They were stupid to trust thier friend.”

        A friend that cannot be trusted, is not a true friend.

  • Cindy Maddy

    All the judge needs to do is obtain a transaction log of the machine that sold the “winning” ticket. If that winning ticket was among a “group” of tickets (numbering 12), then he is guilty. If it falls outside that group, he’s free and clear. Simple as that. If the former turns out to be the case, the guy doesn’t have a leg to stand on. Even if he bought “13” tickets, and just picked one from the group before the drawing… he tampered with the intended purpose of the ‘pool’.

    • Cindy Maddy

      And by “numbering 12”, I mean what-ever combination of 12 may be present in close chronological order. Granted, some locations do rapid ticket sales. But there is a distinct pattern of timestamps if an employee keys in for say 12 single tickets (the entries would have nearly identicle differences in “generated” timestamps) , and then an individual ticket (or vise/versus). Hopefully you get my point…. You can tell by the log files if a series of tickets was purchased “in a group”.

      • Linann

        Some pools buy tickets at diffrent location.

        • Jesse

          When I did a pool, 85 people put 5 bucks in. I bought the tickets at different locations and different days as I bought starting Sunday and everyday till Wednesday night. However, I did not buy any personal ones to avoid this type of stuff in case we had won.

      • Joan

        This person gave the best answer. Makes sense and would get to the bottom of it. The ticket holder should go along with investigating the ticket sale like this if he truly is honest.

  • Barbara J

    I think he should do right thing, give them what they deserve. The ole saying is “money is the rule of all evil”. People change when they get money, but although they don’t have proof the judge still should award them their portion.

    • Kate

      Money is the *root* of all evil.

      • Kim

        “the love of money is the root of all evil” money is not evil, greed is

      • Sanderson

        The “LOVE” of money is the …….

  • Just Sayin'

    He could of easily avoided this if he would of told his “personal” ticket numbers to the group before the drawing, then they would know he was being honest. I would have to say from the way he handled this, he is lying and I would love to see all the money taken away from him. That is rotten.

    • Vic

      When we buy tickets as a group, I always make copies of the tickets for everyone who put money in. That way everyone knows the numbers and there is no question about it because we all buy personal tickets also.

      • kevinb

        if he did not provide copies of the pool tickets, most likely he will lose, because there is no way to prove that the ticket was not intended to be part of the pool. judging by his behavior I think he full well knows that he owes his coworkers a share. just too greedy.in the end after court costs he will end up with much less than if he had just done the right thing to begin with

        • LusciousDC

          If they NEVER required a copy of the tickets in the past, that won’t fly. It was business as usual for this group. I agree with Cindy Maddy..pull the machine records.

  • Scott

    I would think there might be some sort of retaliation against this sc$mbag. I hope he gets enough life insurance for his family to survive.

  • Sailor Boy

    Unless there is something in writing, whoever presents the winning ticket is entitled to the proceeds, regardless what or when was previously understood between the participants, but i think he should split it with the others, cheaper than paying out to lawyers, etc, just common sense.

    • not a lawyer...thank god

      Wrong. Does not have to be in writing.

  • Sailor Boy

    yall all going to hell for gambling, /just kidding/

  • Raymond Velazquez

    This human garbage should pool all his winnings with that white trash from Michigan who won a cool mil. and is still bleeding the gov’t for food stamps.
    And donate all the money to the homeless.

    • jane dough

      the MI lady technically is not working so unfortunatey, she is entitled to unemployment – they don’t give unemployment by looking at assets

      • Me

        Actually they just discontinued her food stamps.

      • Missy

        They are not talking about unemployment they are talking about food stamps. She should not be getting food stamps. After she won all that money.

    • Sailor Boy

      ill drink to that

  • steve

    Listen if all those tickets (12 tickets if each gave 2 bucks each) were purchased at once…it will be recorded at the lottery machine where ever it was bought.
    If 1 of those 12 tickets has the winning number and Lopes collected 2 dollars from each of the peeps….it looks to me that they are entitled to split the money. Now if that winning ticket was bought somewhere else I can see Lopes point BUT I have a funny feeling he is telling a big fat lie and hoping “along with his lawyer who will get paid anyway” the jury will believe his sorry ass .
    Did anyone mention get photocopies?? LOL


    Lopes should NOT have to share anything….if it is true that he bought a separate ticket of his own money….Each pool ticket would have the exact same store location, time of purchase and same date……

    On the other case Lopes personally bought ticket should NOT have the same info above…if it does then is part of the pool….simple as that…..

    • steve

      Your exactly right

    • Think for a Minute

      I’d also add that if they purchased $12 worth of tickets, it would give you 2 tickets with 6 rows each. Lopes’ personal ticket wouldn’t fit on either of the group tickets. That will tell you if the winner was the pool ticket or the personal one.

  • Tracey

    This guy is a vile snake. Never do business with him either. He cannot be trusted. So sick of the greedy.

  • M.A.D


  • Tony

    The money should be split evenly among the six who played. Even though no copies were given, they trusted the man. Word to the wise: always get a copy, no matter what

    • LusciousDC

      No, they shouldn’t if the winning ticket wasn’t part of the 12. They didn’t require copies before, so they just may be assed out if they can’t PROVE the winning ticket was part for their 12. Go to the tickets and the machine. I know that if I were in the situation and was telling the truth; I wouldn’t give up my money either.

  • Bob

    you absolutely do not buy a separate ticket when you are in a pool. Any tickets bought should be for the pool.

    • Blasterific

      Umm you can buy your own ticket. The pool tickets should be photocopied and handed out. If your ticket wins its yours, if the pool tickets win everyone wins.



    • Texas


    • GoldenGun

      Rule #3 we don’t talk about bean club!!!

  • Maureen

    The winnings should be split evenly. Then Americo Lopes should pay all attorney’s fees.

  • Nyc

    Greed..SMH.. It wouldn’t last

  • Sue the Bargain Hunter

    This is why every office lottery ticket pool I’ve ever seen photocopies / distributes copies of the tickets to everyone in the pool before the number is called.

    • Jean

      They are very organized in my office. One person makes a list of all those who contributed to the pool, another goes to buy the tickets and a third makes copies of the tickets and distributes them before the end of the day (before the numbers are drawn) Everyone has proof so something like this never happens. Money changes people and this just protects everyone. We’re not talking about $10 or $20 here. The more money that’s involved, the more you should protect yourself

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