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Cheated winner wants Texas Lottery to pay up

Texas LotteryTexas Lottery: Cheated winner wants Texas Lottery to pay up
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AUSTIN, Tx. — A man cheated of his million-dollar jackpot wants the Texas Lottery to pay up.

The case of Willis Willis drew widespread attention a week ago after a store clerk was indicted for allegedly keeping Willis' winning ticket and claiming the 67-year-old Grand Prairie man's prize in June.

The clerk, identified as Pankaj Joshi, is considered a fugitive.

And Willis is still waiting for his money.

"It's been amazing what's going on," Willis, who said he does maintenance work at apartment buildings, said Tuesday. "I need the money, but no, I'm not upset. I'd just like to get the money that's due me."

Texas Lottery Commission spokesman Bobby Heith declined comment on the issue Tuesday. Willis and his lawyer, Sean Breen of Austin, said the lottery's general counsel agreed to meet next week.

"We're cautiously optimistic the Texas Lottery Commission is going to do the right thing and pay Mr. Willis the money he won fair and square," Breen said.

"We believe the Texas Lottery Commission had a duty to properly and thoroughly investigate what amounts to a major red flag — the presentation of a million-dollar winning ticket by one of its own agents — rather than simply pay that agent money that belongs to Mr. Willis," Breen wrote in a Monday letter to the agency's general counsel. "Mr. Willis did nothing wrong, and therefore the lottery should pay him immediately."

Willis said his plans, assuming he gets his winnings, are simple: Get attention for some dental problems; pay his bills from a hospital stay this year; and take care of the education of his daughter, who intends to go to college.

He bought the winning Mega Millions ticket May 29 in Grand Prairie, according to the Austin Police Department, one of the agencies that investigated the case. On May 31, Willis asked a clerk to check whether it and two others were winners. He was told he had won $2.

Co-workers blew whistle

On June 25, the clerk, identified as Joshi, presented the winning ticket at the commission in Austin. The ticket was validated, and $750,006, after taxes, was transferred to Joshi's bank account.

When Joshi's co-workers became suspicious of his good fortune and called the commission, investigators determined that Willis had bought the ticket, and they gave their findings to the Travis County District Attorney's Office, according to police. A Travis County grand jury indicted Joshi on the offense of claiming a lottery prize by fraud, a second-degree felony.

"He's considered a fugitive, and we're continuing to search for him," said Travis County Assistant District Attorney Patricia Robertson, chief of the White Collar Crime Unit.

So far, $365,000 has been recovered from U.S. banks, officials said.

"That money is being held in an account. We're going to be returning that to the victim at some point," Robertson said. "We hope to be able to return the money to him as quickly as possible."

Hopes to avoid a lawsuit

She said officials are trying to recover the rest of the money.

Breen said Willis "played by the rules," and his jackpot claim should be paid in full, regardless of whether the rest of the funds are recovered.

Breen said in his letter that Willis "should not be forced to sue to collect his prize."

The state generally has protection from individuals' lawsuits unless the Legislature gives permission to sue. Breen said in some instances that immunity may be waived, but he hoped the matter does not come to that.

Houston Chronicle

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43 comments. Last comment 7 years ago by PERDUE.
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TheGameGrl's avatar - character catafly.jpg
A long and winding road
United States
Member #17084
June 10, 2005
4532 Posts
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Posted: October 28, 2009, 9:22 am - IP Logged

as they say , Everything is BIG in Texas, Why not this BIG mistake.

I'm sure the guy will get his funds, since it went thru the investigative and court stages.

I just Hope Texas gives this man a BIG ole apology for such a fiasco.

~~Is it true, Is it kind,Is it necessary. ~~~

christmas holly jolly numbers: 255,303,6911, 474,477 silver:47,gold:79.

    MADDOG10's avatar - smoke
    Beautiful Florida
    United States
    Member #5709
    July 18, 2004
    20124 Posts
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    Posted: October 28, 2009, 9:37 am - IP Logged

    Mr.Willis won the money fair and square, and should be paid the full amount regardless wether or not this clerk has some of his funds.

     The Lottery should pay the amount due and then go after the clerk for their money, not Mr Willis waiting for the rest of the money, or waiting for whatever funds are being held for this investigation. 

                                                 

                                                   "  When Injustice Becomes Law, Resistance Becomes Duty "

      Raven62's avatar - binary
      New Jersey
      United States
      Member #17843
      June 28, 2005
      49813 Posts
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      Posted: October 28, 2009, 10:12 am - IP Logged

      The Texas Lottery Commission seems to be an Example of the Lack of Integrity in Government! Thumbs Down

      Come On Texas: Pay the Guy Already!

      A mind once stretched by a new idea never returns to its original dimensions!

        konane's avatar - wallace
        Atlanta, GA
        United States
        Member #1265
        March 13, 2003
        3333 Posts
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        Posted: October 28, 2009, 10:44 am - IP Logged

        Mr.Willis won the money fair and square, and should be paid the full amount regardless wether or not this clerk has some of his funds.

         The Lottery should pay the amount due and then go after the clerk for their money, not Mr Willis waiting for the rest of the money, or waiting for whatever funds are being held for this investigation. 

        I Agree!

        Good luck to everyone!

          rdgrnr's avatar - walt
          Way back up in them dadgum hills, son!
          United States
          Member #73904
          April 28, 2009
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          Posted: October 28, 2009, 12:11 pm - IP Logged

          Wonder how much the lawyer is going to rip him for now?

          I wish Willis the best but he seems maybe just a little bit slow and I hope he doesn't fall victim to a feeding frenzy after he gets the money.

          And the Texas Lottery ought to give him his money immediately. It was stolen by someone who was a de facto agent for the Lottery.


                                                       
                               
                                                   

           

           

           

           

                                                                                                             

          "The only thing necessary for evil to triumph is for good men to do nothing"

                                                                                                      --Edmund Burke

           

           

            Avatar
            FL
            United States
            Member #77284
            July 19, 2009
            60 Posts
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            Posted: October 28, 2009, 5:32 pm - IP Logged

            Wonder how much the lawyer is going to rip him for now?

            I wish Willis the best but he seems maybe just a little bit slow and I hope he doesn't fall victim to a feeding frenzy after he gets the money.

            And the Texas Lottery ought to give him his money immediately. It was stolen by someone who was a de facto agent for the Lottery.

            at least 20%

              Avatar
              Monkey Butt, USA
              United States
              Member #54569
              August 23, 2007
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              Posted: October 28, 2009, 5:53 pm - IP Logged

              Rant

              Did I miss something somewhere in the first story about this village idiot?!!!! Mr. Willis should be grateful for any money he gets from the Lottery Comnmission!! As I recall it was Mr. Willis, who couldn't find the channel that televised the drawings (TXCN shows the lottery results all day everyday here in TX), stopped purchasing the newspaper, was too da-mn lazy to pick up the results printout on the counter/on the playslip kiosk, or scan his own frickin ticket at the scanner attached to the counter. All this sorry P.O.S. did was hand over his ticket because he trusted the store clerk!! He was too G.D. lazy to even sign the da-mn thing (the ticket)!!!!!

              Hit With Stick

              Now he expect the TLC to give a million?!!! If it was not for his sorry azz this sh-it would not be happening now!!!! And if it was not for the store owner and the other store clerk this ungrateful puppy would not be getting the 365K.  A million bucks?!!! Willis doesn't need a million bucks, he need a keeper. I hope it goes to court and get ate up in court costs and lawer fees!!!  If the TLC does decide to give his  careless behind a million dollars, I would be surprised.

              Everywhere you look: on the playslip, print out results, back of your ticket, you will see the words "Sign ticket before claiming." Which part of that is so difficult to do?!! What the lotteries need to do is start making all of these careless people pay by giving them not-a-thing. Why should they be rewarded because they are too lazy to sign their ticket?

              I do not in no way condone what the crooked store clerk did, but why excuse Willis? Whatever happened to accountability? It was Willis' resonsibility to check his ticket and to make sure he signed his ticket. He does not deserve the full amount. The only thing he deserves is the amount that could be recovered. The TLC should not have to pay for his carelessness!!

              The TLC doesn't owe this man an apology because they did not refuse him payment nor did they cause this problem. What the TLC is doing is no different than what an insurance company would do when it comes to paying on a large claim of this magnitude.

              As I recall Willis went on living his life even though he had no knowledge of his win. Now all of a sudden he is in a hurry to get paid? He'll get paid when he gets paid. Not a day before. Not a day later.

              If Willis's lawyer decide to take this to court, who do you think is gonna win? I'll tell ya. The TLC because they can tie this thing up in litigation for years and they have deep pockets and lots and lots of lawyers and politicians. Willis' lawyer will only be on the bandwagon until he realizes the money has been used up. Do you actually believe this guy will hang around once his fees surpasses the amount they are going after? If this thing ends up in litigation Willis' case will hit the "to-be-continued" file real quick.  And you know litigation can last so long that your great-great-grandchildren will be drawing a social security check by the time this thing is resolved.

              As my highschool english teacher used to tell us, "A hint to the wise is sufficient." So here is your hint:  Sign your tickets!!!! IN INK NOT PENCIL OR CRAYON OR FELT PEN!!!!!

              The winner of this whole pathetic saga is the IRS. And once again I'll say, congratulations IRS U R A Winner!!!!!

              Party

                whitmansm2's avatar - Lottery-029.jpg
                Right here...can't you see me?
                United States
                Member #21521
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                Posted: October 28, 2009, 5:57 pm - IP Logged

                Correct me if I'm wrong, but didn't the last story about him say "He is being very patient about this"?  Now he's getting antsy?

                 

                I guess I'm slow on the uptake here, but isn't the ticket holder the barer here? I understand the clerk stole it and I understand it belongs to Willis (there is so much proof pointing at him) but how is the Texas Lottery to know all of that until it is explained to them? They gave the money to the person with the legitimate winning ticket.  I guess I'm trying to say I'm not seeing the Texas Lottery people being the bad people here. 

                 

                What they do now, is another story. Personally, I see this as a between Willis and the clerk type of issue.  See it from a slippery slope aspect, if they pay Willis, how many other people will attempt to come out and say so and so stole it from them and demand the lottery to pay them?  More and more money will have to go to the lottery lawyers and the jackpots will rise a hellava lot slower. 

                 

                Or I could be WAY off...

                 

                Either way Mr. Willis is losing roughly 1/2 of his money to taxes and lawyer fees.  Maybe he'll demand that the lottery will pay for his lawyer too.

                No No

                Don't cry over spilled milk.  Go milk another cow!!

                Stephanie

                  RJOh's avatar - chipmunk
                  mid-Ohio
                  United States
                  Member #9
                  March 24, 2001
                  19831 Posts
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                  Posted: October 28, 2009, 6:24 pm - IP Logged

                  A few years back a player bought 13 Buckeye5 tickets with the same numbers and all his tickets were jackpot winners.  The minimum jackpot payouts were $100K per ticket or if there were more than 10 winners a cap of $1M would be divided equally by all the winners. There was another winning ticket so this guy got even less then the $1M.  He sued the state and the store claiming he didn't know about the cap (which was printed on the back of the play slips) so the clerk as an agent of the lottery should have explained the rules to him before he bought his tickets.  He was hoping to get $100K for each of his winning tickets but the court decided it was his responsibility to read,  understand and follow the those rules, the state could not be held responsible for his stupidity.

                  Since this guy could end up only getting what can be recovered and paying 35% of it to the IRS before paying his lawyer and local taxes.   The IRS will be paid twice from the same jackpot winnings.

                   * you don't need to buy more tickets, just buy a winning ticket * 
                     
                               Evil Looking       

                    TheGameGrl's avatar - character catafly.jpg
                    A long and winding road
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                    Posted: October 28, 2009, 6:52 pm - IP Logged

                    The state will be required to pay his legal fees. Many a judgment in favor of the plaintiff is handled that the losing team pays the fees for recovery. Since its clear this man is seeking his rightful claim

                    As to the previous poster- Your logic does not compute. The Lottery failed on many levels. The lastest being not paying the man after all protocals were followed. This case is clear in that it WAS STOLEN and then claimed fraudently. Yes folks can claim fraud, but this man and the lottery already had enough to CONVICT the man of this. Perhaps you need to read how this story clearly rings in favor of the gent who now seeks his winnings.

                    ~~Is it true, Is it kind,Is it necessary. ~~~

                    christmas holly jolly numbers: 255,303,6911, 474,477 silver:47,gold:79.

                      maringoman's avatar - images q=tbn:ANd9GcTbRxpKQmOfcCoUqF2FyqIOAwDo7rg9G-lfJLAALPGWJWwiz19eRw
                      Massachusetts
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                      April 14, 2006
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                      Posted: October 28, 2009, 9:30 pm - IP Logged

                      That pankaj Joshi should just refund back all the monies that he still has because they will catch up with him. He better return the loot and then maybe, just maybe they will be lenient with him. I'm pretty sure he still has most of the money somewhere in neat bundles.

                        rdgrnr's avatar - walt
                        Way back up in them dadgum hills, son!
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                        Posted: October 29, 2009, 2:02 am - IP Logged

                        I think the man being not too bright will be irrelevant in any legal proceedings.

                        I think the main issue will be that the clerk, acting as an agent for the TLC, stole his money.

                        If a friend, relative or stranger stole it that's a completely different case.

                        But it was an agent of the TLC that stole it.

                        He wins, they lose.


                                                                     
                                             
                                                                 

                         

                         

                         

                         

                                                                                                                           

                        "The only thing necessary for evil to triumph is for good men to do nothing"

                                                                                                                    --Edmund Burke

                         

                         

                          Avatar
                          NY
                          United States
                          Member #23835
                          October 16, 2005
                          3475 Posts
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                          Posted: October 29, 2009, 2:37 am - IP Logged

                          The state will be required to pay his legal fees. Many a judgment in favor of the plaintiff is handled that the losing team pays the fees for recovery. Since its clear this man is seeking his rightful claim

                          As to the previous poster- Your logic does not compute. The Lottery failed on many levels. The lastest being not paying the man after all protocals were followed. This case is clear in that it WAS STOLEN and then claimed fraudently. Yes folks can claim fraud, but this man and the lottery already had enough to CONVICT the man of this. Perhaps you need to read how this story clearly rings in favor of the gent who now seeks his winnings.

                          "Perhaps you need to read how this story clearly rings in favor of the gent who now seeks his winnings."

                          Perhaps you need to read up on when the ticket was claimed, when "the gent" found out that a ticket he had bought was a winning ticket, and when the lottery first heard that there was a problem. The Texas lottery has already paid the full value of the prize. At that time they had no way of knowing that the person claiming it stole it from the rightful owner.

                          Whether or not the lottery owes the guy anything will be up to the courts, but I don't see any liability on the part of the lottery. The person who stole the ticket worked for a retailer who sold lottery tickets. I'm very skeptical that the courts will find that to make the clerk an agent of the lottery. If he wasn't an agent of the lottery then the lottery has no liability, and this is no different than trying to blame the people who make Cracker Jacks because a store employee stole the prize from your box after you bought it, opened it, and left it on the counter.

                          There is a slim chance that the guy might have some success is in going after the store. As a clerk, the person who stole the ticket was an agent of the store, which would make the store liable for some damages caused to a customer by a clerk. Unfortunately, the damages in this case were caused by a criminal act, and not by the clerk simply doing his job poorly or incorrectly. Finding an employer responsible for acts that are completely outside of normal job duties is very unusual.

                            Littleoldlady's avatar - basket
                            Clarksville
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                            Member #487
                            July 15, 2002
                            17638 Posts
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                            Posted: October 29, 2009, 6:35 pm - IP Logged

                            I think he should get all of his money.  Someone STOLE his ticket whether he was dumb, blind or stupid..the win was still his.

                            If you know your number is going to hit, have patience and then KILL IT!

                            You never know when you will get another hit.