A Howland, Ohio couple who won $250,000 playing Mega Millions discovered the hard way that money can come between friends.
Michael Salcone and his wife, Theresa, of Gretchen Drive have been sued by 10 of Michael Salcone's former breakfast friends at the Elm Road McDonald's after a dispute arose over whose money bought a winning lottery ticket.
"I'm just astounded," Theresa Salcone said Wednesday when she learned of the suit, filed in Trumbull County Common Pleas Court.
According to the filing, the 11 men had been meeting for breakfast almost daily for the past three years. In August, they agreed to put $5 each into a pool to play the Mega Million lottery game on Fridays.
Michael Salcone agreed to collect the money and buy the tickets, the suit says. On Oct. 7, one of the tickets Salcone bought contained five of six winning numbers, yielding a prize of $250,000, but he didn't tell the group about it, the suit says.
Rumor has it
Around the first week of November, some of the members heard a rumor that Salcone had hit the lottery and asked him whether it was true, the suit says. Salcone said no and acted surprised by the rumor, it adds.
When some of the group members saw a sign a few days later indicating that the Giant Eagle on Elm Road had sold a $250,000 winning ticket, they asked and were told the winner was Salcone, the suit says. Salcone then indicated the winner was his wife — but she played the game on a Tuesday, not a Friday, it says.
Theresa Salcone said the complaint is baseless because her husband always showed the tickets to the other men every Saturday morning, and the men knew just how many tickets they bought, she said.
"He would take them and they checked them all together," she said. "Sometimes he would just say 'You check them.'"
The 10 men listed as plaintiffs are Ronald L. LeMaster, Raymond C. McLean, Kenneth B. Ulrich, Robert Holmes Jr., Steve E. Mrofchak, Joseph Celedonia, Donald C. Hoyle, Philip M. Sidoti and Joseph M. Sidoti, all of Warren; and Robert Cebula of Burghill.
The Ohio Lottery Commission confirmed that the ticket was part of a block of tickets — and it had not been bought separately as Salcone had told the group, the suit says.
The Ohio Lottery Commission, contacted by telephone Wednesday afternoon, said the winning ticket had not yet been claimed. The commission said it must be claimed within 180 days after the drawing, or it will be forfeited.
The suit asks for a preliminary injunction restraining the Salcones from transferring, concealing or destroying any of their property and stopping five banks and a credit union from releasing any funds to the Salcones.
It asks for a judgment of $350,000 in compensatory damages and $100,000 in punitive damages and a finding that the Salcones not get any share of the winnings. The case is assigned to Judge Andrew Logan.
The suit says Salcone no longer joins the others for breakfast, and showed up for the last time in early December.