Aug 10, 2004, 9:47 am
Two couples are fighting in court over ownership of a Massachusetts Lottery scratch ticket worth $4 million.
According to testimony in the civil jury trial in Barnstable Superior Court, which got under way Monday, Julie Prive was a clerk at a Tedeschi's market in Falmouth in 2002, and began regularly collecting discarded losing scratch tickets. She entered these tickets in the Clean Fun Sweepstakes, the lottery's second-chance game designed to keep used tickets from becoming litter.
Prive said that while double-checking the used tickets, she found a winner in a "$600 Million Spectacular" ticket worth $4 million.
However Raymond MacDonald and Monica Hertz claim the winning ticket - No. 93 in the book of $10 tickets - was among the 45 tickets they bought that day, May 17. The pair said they bought 12 tickets - Nos. 99 to 88 - from the ticket book containing the winning ticket, according to their lawyer, Leigh-Ann Patterson, in her opening statement.
MacDonald, a retiree from Falmouth, testified that he plays the lottery two or three times a day, spending upwards of $100. He won a $2 million jackpot from a scratch ticket in 1997.
According to his attorneys, MacDonald has a distinctive "scratch signature" that would make it possible to show he once had held the ticket.
However attorneys for Julie Prive and her husband, David, said ownership of the ticket is not clear-cut.
"The plaintiffs are here for one reason - they happened to be there at approximately the time the ticket was sold," attorney Jeremy Carter said.
Although the Prives told the lottery commission that Julie had found the ticket, she told a Cape Cod Times reporter at the time that she bought the ticket after she got off work.
While MacDonald and Hertz have tried to stop the Prives from collecting their winnings - $200,000 a year for 20 years before taxes - lottery commission officials said they will continue to pay the couple until told to do otherwise by the court, according to court documents. So far, the Prives have been paid $600,000 before taxes.
It is uncertain whether Hertz will testify, as the was in Falmouth Hospital on Monday being treated for blood clots after a recent leg injury.
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