Photo: Jury Rules Undocumented Immigrant is Rightful Owner of $750K Lottery Ticket
An undocumented immigrant has been allowed to collect the $750,000 he won when he purchased a lottery ticket in 2010.
On November 17, 2010, Guatemalan-born Jose Antonio Cua-Toc purchased a lottery ticket that turned out to a big winner. However, after confirming with a clerk that he had indeed won, he gave the ticket to his boss, as he was afraid his immigration status would prevent him from collecting. His employer, Erick Cervantes, would turn around and claim the ticket as his and try to keep the lottery winnings. Knowing he had been scammed, Cua-Toc contacted a lawyer.
In court, Cervantes claimed that he asked Cua-Toc to buy the $20 ticket for him, making him the rightful owner of the Jingle Jumbo Bucks prize money, not Cua-Toc.
After collecting the winnings, the Cervantes family is said to have spent about $223,000 before the lottery funds were frozen by the court in Dec 31, 2010.
Thursday, a Houston County Superior Court jury ruled in just 35 minutes that Cua-Toc, 27, was indeed the owner of the ticket and was owed the lottery winnings, which his lawyer says come out to $517,500 after taxes. The jury also awarded him $207,000 in lawyer fees and $25,000 in punitive damages.
A member of the jury told Macon’s Sun News that their decision was based on surveillance footage of Cua-Toc at the store where he confirmed it was a winning ticket.
While showing footage to the jury of a very excited Cua-Toc raising his hands in celebration, his attorney said, “Is this the reaction of somebody who bought a ticket for someone else and is going to have to give it to his boss tomorrow?”