A jailed illegal immigrant in Georgia is the rightful owner of a $750,000 lottery ticket, a jury decided Thursday.
The Macon Telegraph has an excellent write-up on the tale of suddenly rich but soon-to-be-deported Jose Antonio “Tony” Cua-Toc, 27, a native of Guatemala who entered the country illegally in 2000.
Cua-Toc, a day laborer in the employ of Fort Valley business owner Erick Cervantes, bought the winning Jingle Jumbo Bucks lottery ticket in November 2010. Cua-Toc said he asked Cervantes to cash in the ticket because he was in the country illegally, but Cervantes kept the money.
Cervantes claims he gave Cua-Toc $20 to buy the ticket for him, but jurors watching store video of an exultant Cua-Toc decided that was not the behavior of a man who had just won a fortune for someone else.
The verdict in the civil suit would seem to set precedent — the jury determined the owner of a lottery ticket is not who pays for it, but who actually purchases it, which has me reconsidering the AJC office pool.
Cua-Toc’s winnings after taxes total $517,500. The Houston County jury also awarded him $207,000 in attorney’s fees and $25,000 in punitive damages. He is currently jailed on a DUI charge and will likely be deported after completing his sentence.
According to Georgia law, Cua-Toc could have claimed the prize as an illegal immigrant, which would have made this story a lot less interesting.
Now, I’m off to buy a $1 Mega Millions ticket. The drawing tonight is worth $148 million, and, if I win, I can assure you I won’t be asking my boss to cash it in for me.