Since celebrating a $3.5 million lottery win earlier this year, a Windsor, Ontario, family has been torn apart with an elderly man accusing his wife and stepdaughters of conspiring to hide the winnings from him.
Retired carpenter Gerald Moore, 81, filed a lawsuit saying he bought the ticket. His homemaker wife of 10 years, Mary Patricia Moore, 59, says it was her daughter's ticket.
To complicate matters, the suit was filed by Mr. Moore a month after Ms. Moore filed for divorce, and police have struck up their own investigation.
Until things are sorted out, an Ontario Supreme Court judge last week froze the winnings and assets of the family, saying: "There is strong evidence that the plaintiff [Mr. Moore] purchased the lottery ticket."
The ticket won $3,499,638 on April 2.
According to Mr. Moore's statement of claim, he bought $20 in gas and a $5 Lotto 6/49 ticket from Pioneer Petroleum on April 1. Mr. Moore says he's on a first-name basis with the gas station owner. Ms. Moore, meanwhile, says she bought the ticket on behalf of her daughter, Bobbie-Jo Arnold.
Mr. Moore says he left the ticket on the nightstand. On April 3, his wife took the ticket without telling him, drove to a nearby store with her adult daughters from a previous marriage, and phoned Ontario Lottery and Gaming Corp. to confirm the win, his statement of claim says.
Ms. Moore then drove to Toronto, where the prize was claimed by Ms. Arnold, Mr. Moore alleges. Mr. Moore says he read about his stepdaughter's win in the newspaper the next day, saying his wife never told him about it.
He also says his wife "...manipulated [his] pain, blood pressure, heart and blood medication for the purpose of rendering him physically, emotionally and psychologically incapable of appreciating the nature and consequence of the events..."
Ms. Moore's lawyer Samuel Mossman yesterday called that a "ridiculous allegation," saying she has no medical training or ability to manipulate medication.
After claiming the prize, Ms. Arnold kept $1 million, gave $1 million to her sister, and $1.5 million to her mother.
In her statement of defence filed yesterday, Ms. Moore said she bought the $5 ticket on her daughter's behalf; that she told her husband of the win as soon as she and her daughters returned from Toronto; and that she spent the vast majority of what her daughter gave her on things that benefited the couple.
These included paying off mutual debts, buying at least one home in both their names, and buying Mr. Moore a new SUV, Mr. Mossman said yesterday. It was only after her husband's children learned of the prize that the dispute worsened and led her to file for divorce, she says. All that's left of her share of the winnings is about $200,000, her lawyer said, adding it's in an investment account in both Mr. and Ms. Moore's names.
"She spent an awful lot of money on her husband, which is counterintuitive if she's trying to take money from him," Mr. Mossman said.
"It's the classic he-said, she-said story," he added.
The crux of the case appears to boil down to a simple question: Who bought the ticket? The owner of the gas station, who Mr. Moore says he knows and his wife does not, did not return phone calls last night.
Mr. Moore is seeking full repayment of the winnings, the rights to many of the extended family's homes, the $200,000 investment, additional mutual funds, and an another $1.5 million in general and punitive damages — more than $5 million in claims. His wife's extended family, including Ms. Arnold, and the OLG are all named in the suit.
Once Mr. Moore's claim came to the attention of OLG, the case was deemed a suspicious win — because of the disputing claims — and handed over to Ontario Provincial Police officers at the Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario who specialize in such investigations. That investigation is ongoing, AGCO spokeswoman Lisa Murray said yesterday.