Jan 14, 2005, 1:18 pm
For nearly four years, Olmsted Falls postal worker Stephen Kyle faithfully delivered copies of losing lottery tickets to 19 co-workers every time the Mega Millions jackpot exceeded $100 million.
Until June 25, that is -- which was the first time Kyle picked a winner, hitting on five of six numbers, worth $175,000.
On that date, Kyle, who organized the pool, failed to provide his co-workers with copies of the tickets and neglected to tell them that one was a winner.
Kyle, 51, of Amherst, later ex plained to the pool members that, unfortunately, their $100 had produced a measly $2 winner -- but that his $10 had produced the big payday.
Seven pool members didn't believe Kyle and sued in Cuyahoga County Common Pleas Court.
As the trial opened Thursday, Kyle's lawyer acknowledged that copies of the tickets would have served as his client's best defense. But lacking that evidence, the jury would have to trust Kyle.
"He's the only one who knows how many tickets he bought," said defense attorney R.J. Budway.
Not so fast, said the pool's attorney, Robert Smith III. He will present sales records from Shaker's IGA on Bagley Road in Olmsted Township to show Kyle's winning ticket was one of 10 bought in a block on June 25.
But the records fail to support Kyle's claim that he spent the pool's $100 the day before, on June 24; records show he actually spent only $50 that day.
After Kyle learned of this evidence, Smith said, the defendant changed his story. In a sworn pretrial statement, Kyle said he spent the other $50 of the pool's money on June 23.
"This winning ticket was actually a pool ticket that entitles these plaintiffs to share in the winnings," Smith said.
Before the trial, Judge Daniel Gaul urged both sides to settle out of court. But concerns by the defense that a cash settlement might cause the 12 other members of the pool to sue Kyle caused him to reject the deal.
Gaul said he expects the trial to be completed by today. He told jurors to expect to begin deliberations Tuesday, the day after the Martin Luther King Jr. Day holiday.
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