|Hackensack, N.J. July 29, 2003. Maria Newman in the New York Times writes that the Superior Court here is hearing the odd case of a fight over a $25.4 million jackpot lottery win which has two sets of claimants, or three, depending on whom the court decides to believe. |
Raymond J. Ryan, Deputy Director of the New Jersey State Lottery, has testified that he believes an Englewood, New Jersey couple, Teri and Cornell Davis, are the rightful owners of the winning ticket, bought in March. However, workers from Englewood Hospital are suing for the right to the winnings, based on the belief that their colleague, x-ray technician Jamal Townes, who regularly bought their pooled tickets, came up with the winning ticket and gave it to Mr. and Mrs. Davis to hide the huge win his co-workers.
The co-workers brought suit against Townes and the Davises in May, after Townes told them a cousin of his had won the jackpot and he had asked them not to get suspicious when they saw him driving a BMW soon. Barbara Connizzo, a nurse and a member of the pool, testified that a few days after the drawing Townes told her, “My cousin won the lottery. He bought his ticket at the same place we buy ours ... ” Connizzo asked who this cousin was, and Townes reportedly said, “Some guy. You don't know him.”
But Connizzo also testified that later, when suspicion upon him had been aroused, that Townes said to her: “Barbara, just for the record, I did not buy any lottery tickets.”
Mr. Davis, who with his wife first applied for the lottery win, testified that he and Townes are not related, but they grew up in the same neighborhood. Davis told Judge Marguerite T. Simon, at the lawsuit case, that he never promised to buy Townes a car. Judge Simon froze all but $100,000 of the winnings, pending the outcome of the court case that is now being heard. .
Mr. Ryan testified that lottery officials had questioned all involved, “reviewed work time sheets and parking garage logs and viewed the videotape at the store where the ticket was bought in March for the Big Game Mega Millions drawing,” according to Maria Newman of the Times. Ryan testified that the hospital workers “have not been able to substantiate their claim of ownership.” Mr. Ryan told the Lottery's executive director that the winnings belonged to Mr. and Mrs. Davis. Ryan testified the winning ticket was “bought at 9:22 AM on March 14 at the Circle Food Mart in Englewood. Records at the parking garage that Mr. Townes uses for work,” wrote Newman, “showed him parking his car at 7:39 a.m. and not leaving until 12:07 p.m. that day, Mr. Ryan said. Also, hospital logs show Mr. Townes starting a diagnostic procedure at 9:27 a.m.”
The Food Mart is a 10-minute drive from the hospital, and Ryan testified that, though the store’s videotape was inconclusive as evidence because it was not properly dated, he had not seen anyone on the tape who looked like Mr. Townes.
However, the lawyer for the workers, Sheldon Liebowitz, got Mr. Ryan to acknowledge in court that he had also not seen anyone on the tape who looked like Mr. Davis.
Mrs. Davis reportedly said during a break in the trial that she thought Mr. Townes got carried away “by knowing someone who had won the lottery,” Newman wrote, and the hospital workers, in turn, “believed his boasting, she said.”
The case continues.