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Lucky B.C. lottery retailers also bankrupt

Jun 1, 2007, 9:47 am

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British Columbia Lottery

At least two people on list of retailers known to have won multiple prizes were experiencing financial problems

At least two B.C. retailers who won the lottery multiple times were so badly in debt around the time of their winnings they filed for bankruptcy.

On Wednesday, after a scathing report from the B.C. ombudsman on retailer fraud, the B.C. Lottery Corp. released the names of 24 retailers known to have won multiple prizes over the past seven years.

Bankruptcy records obtained by The Sun reveal at least two of the people on that list were in such financial difficulty they filed for protection from their creditors.

BCLC spokeswoman Robin Cook said Thursday the corporation was not aware of the retailers' bankruptcies.

She said BCLC's security staff, which reviews all major wins by retailers, doesn't investigate the financial history of retailers who claim prizes.

"The security checks that we do at the lottery corporation are to confirm the rightful owner of the ticket," said Cook. "Financial status is not something that we look into."

Cook said BCLC has found no cases where a lottery prize was paid out to someone other than the ticket's rightful owner.

However, ombudsman Kim Carter's report, released Tuesday, found several serious problems with the lottery corporation's security system, including that it did not pay special attention to retailers who won multiple prizes.

"BCLC did not look at these prize payouts any differently, from the perspective of security, than a series of individual wins," she wrote.

"Neither did it conduct any statistical assessments to determine if the rate of win of some BCLC retailers and BCLC retailer employees merited a more careful examination."

One of the multiple winners to file for bankruptcy was Sandy Waldorf, an employee at the Texada Island Inn.

Between 1997 and 2001, Waldorf won at Keno 19 separate times for a total of more than $150,000 in prizes.

The vast majority of those wins, 13 in all, came in the 2000-01 fiscal year, including one $50,000 prize.

Around the same time, on July 27, 2001, Waldorf filed for bankruptcy — claiming more than $70,000 in debts and just $4,525 in assets.

She was discharged from bankruptcy — meaning she was freed from most of her debts — on March 28, 2002.

Records detailing the exact reason for Waldorf's bankruptcy were not available Thursday.

Sharon Little, a waitress at the Texada Island Inn, said in a phone interview Thursday that Waldorf hasn't worked at the inn for many years and she thinks Waldorf moved off the island.

Interestingly, Waldorf also won a $967,000 Lotto 6/49 jackpot two decades ago.

According to articles from The Sun at the time, Waldorf, then 27 and working at a gas station on Texada Island, bought her ticket from a Shoppers Drug Mart in Powell River.

BCLC said Thursday that Waldorf was not a lottery retailer at the time of her 1986 win.

The Sun was unable to locate Waldorf for comment.

The second retailer with multiple wins to file for bankruptcy was Bert Tymchyshyn, then-owner of The Only Gas Bar in Fernie.

According to the records released by BCLC, Tymchyshyn won five separate Keno prizes between 1999 and 2001 — for a total of more than $52,000.

That included two separate $20,000 prizes in the 2000-01 fiscal year.

According to BCLC records, Tymchyshyn closed his gas station in July 2001.

Three years later, on Dec. 13, 2004, Tymchyshyn filed for bankruptcy — claiming debts of more than $290,000 and just $21,165 in assets ($19,000 of which was his truck).

According to bankruptcy records filed by Tymchyshyn, he owed about $67,000 to the Canada Revenue Agency and had debts of about $13,000 on his Visa card.

In his application for bankruptcy, Tymchyshyn listed his reason for financial difficulty as "business failure."

Tymchyshyn was discharged from bankruptcy on Sept. 14, 2005.

Messages left for Tymchyshyn at his home in Kelowna were not returned by late Thursday afternoon.

In addition to Tymchyshyn and Waldorf, The Sun also found a third person on BCLC's list who appears to have filed for bankruptcy.

That person, Eletha Olsen, co-owner of the Big Eddie Market in Revelstoke, won a single Keno prize of $15,000 in 2000-2001.

On Dec. 14, 2001, she filed for bankruptcy claiming debts of $92,763.

Records detailing the exact reason for Olsen's bankruptcy were not available Thursday.

Her co-owner at the store, Eugene Morrone, won two separate Keno prizes, according to BCLC's records — $3,002 in 1999-2000 and $10,000 in 2000-01.

An employee at the Big Eddie Market, who did not give her name, said Thursday that neither Olsen or Morrone are current owners of the store.

The 24 retailers who won multiple times were identified by the ombudsman after it reviewed seven years of files at BCLC's offices in Richmond and Kamloops.

Only those who win prizes of $10,000 or more — fewer than one percent of all lottery winners — are required to go to BCLC's office to claim their prize.

Smaller prizes are either paid out by the retailer from petty cash or at casinos.

As a result, the ombudsman's search for multiple winners only looked at those few retailers with wins of more than $10,000 — or who happened to come into BCLC's offices to claim smaller prizes.

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