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$1M lottery winner admits stealing from cancer-stricken brother's business

Massachusetts LotteryMassachusetts Lottery: $1M lottery winner admits stealing from cancer-stricken brother's business
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BROCKTON, Mass. — When Manuel Buginga found out his sister had been embezzling money from his Brockton construction business for years he didn't know what to do.

Buginga said he was even more shocked to learn that she increased the amount she had been stealing after she found out he had been diagnosed with cancer and also after she won $1 million on a scratch ticket just two months prior.

In March 2012, Buginga was diagnosed with advanced lymphoma. With the news of his cancer he went to review his bank accounts for the business to see where he stood financially and said they were virtually empty.

His sister, Maria Pereira, 55, of 3 Wallace St., Berkley was the bookkeeper for the company, MJM Construction on Main Street in Brockton, a successful business that Buginga had built from the ground up.

In total, Pereira was alleged to have stolen $1.6 million from the company from 2009 to 2012.

On Friday she pleaded guilty in Brockton Superior Court to larceny over $250 by a single scheme as part of a plea deal to have 15 other charges against her dropped.

"She accelerated after she found out I was sick," Buginga, 38, of Bridgewater said. He underwent months of treatments and has now been cancer free since October 2012.

As part of the plea deal on Friday, Pereira was sentenced to 5 years probation and was ordered to pay $103,757 in restitution. She had been facing 5 years in prison.

Despite Buginga's best efforts to explain the situation to his vendors, many of which stood by his side, his business was ruined as he took time to deal with his cancer.

After winning the lottery Jan. 31 2012 and taking a lump sum of $455,000 after taxes, Pereira put several thousand dollars back into the business to try and cover her tracks, Buginga said.

With the money she bought motorcycles, custom closets and paid for vacations, Plymouth County Assistant District Attorney Russ Eonas said.

Pereira twisted and fidgeted with a ring on her finger and writhed her hands together throughout the hearing in front of Judge Cornelius Moriarty. Her cell phone buzzed loudly multiple times during the hearing, for which she apologized.

"It's clear that Ms. Pereira has engaged in extraordinarily disgraceful conduct," Moriarty said. "She's stolen from her brother who placed her in a position of trust and she stole from him when he was sick."

Moriarty said he only allowed the plea, instead of the case going to trial as planned on Monday, because Buginga accepted the terms.

"This case was never about restitution. It's not about the money. It's about his reputation, his family, his community, his business contacts and the like," said Eonas, who was very confident he would have won had the case gone to trial.

After the hearing was over, Pereira walked straight to the door and did not look at her brother.

As part of her probation, she must not have any contact with Buginga or his wife and two kids, ages 7 and 9.

Buginga said he would prefer it that way.

He called her a "scam artist" and an "absolute scumbag" and said it was not the first time she had been accused of stealing.

Pereira told Moriarty said she is employed as a tax preparer for N & J Tax & Bookkeeping at 404 New State Highway in Raynham.

She agreed to pay $1,000 per week to Buginga until the $103,575 is paid off.

"Where that money comes from is the big question," Buginga said.

As a result of the plea deal, Buginga may never see the rest of the money Pereira was alleged to have stolen. He has a civil case against Pereira pending in Brockton District Court.

"I accepted the deal because I just want closure to this. I want people to know that she's guilty," Buginga said.

Despite his setbacks, Buginga has been able to rebuild his company which is doing better than ever.

"I'm just happy to put this all behind me for me and my family," he said.

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The Enterprise

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20 comments. Last comment 1 year ago by HaveABall.
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Simpsonville
United States
Member #163189
January 22, 2015
677 Posts
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Posted: July 19, 2015, 9:58 am - IP Logged

This story really sickened me.  Seems like brother did what I would do...disowned her.  Karma is a you know what and will bite her and he won't be there to rescue her.

On a side note, look out Massachusetts..coming home to get my Season Tickets which are on sale sans Powerball.  Printed up all the grand prizes claimed $1Million so will know which scratch tickets to play.

 

My Ottoball is in the luggage.

    GiveFive's avatar - Lottery-026.jpg
    NY State
    United States
    Member #92609
    June 10, 2010
    3707 Posts
    Offline
    Posted: July 19, 2015, 10:18 am - IP Logged

    This story really sickened me.  Seems like brother did what I would do...disowned her.  Karma is a you know what and will bite her and he won't be there to rescue her.

    On a side note, look out Massachusetts..coming home to get my Season Tickets which are on sale sans Powerball.  Printed up all the grand prizes claimed $1Million so will know which scratch tickets to play.

     

    My Ottoball is in the luggage.

    Look out you dont get hammered by "TAX-a-chusetts"! She netted $455,000 out of a million dollar scratch off win. 

    No doubt she's a scum-bag. 

    I got a good chuckle out of his comment regarding her paying him $1,000 week restitution: "Where that money comes from is the big question." 

    Yeah!  Who'd she steal that money from????

    About playing the lottery --  You will lose more than you win. Until you hit a jackpot.  Then everything changes!

      music*'s avatar - nw bookeep.jpg
      Happy California
      United States
      Member #157856
      August 2, 2014
      1522 Posts
      Offline
      Posted: July 19, 2015, 10:36 am - IP Logged

      My bet is on her being addicted to something like gambling, drugs, etc...Mad

      These bad winners make the news while good ones remain anonymous. If it bleeds it leads. There are more honest and trustworthy winners then bad ones.

       I've been rich and I've been poor. Believe me, rich is better. 

       Attributed to Joe E. Lewis and others

        Avatar
        Simpsonville
        United States
        Member #163189
        January 22, 2015
        677 Posts
        Offline
        Posted: July 19, 2015, 11:00 am - IP Logged

        Look out you dont get hammered by "TAX-a-chusetts"! She netted $455,000 out of a million dollar scratch off win. 

        No doubt she's a scum-bag. 

        I got a good chuckle out of his comment regarding her paying him $1,000 week restitution: "Where that money comes from is the big question." 

        Yeah!  Who'd she steal that money from????

        I don't get that, tax rate same in KY and you get $690K on a million.  However thinking about it if you take the cash option on a million, which she probably did, then you are correct.  Read somewhere is is lower than $455K though.

          Avatar
          Simpsonville
          United States
          Member #163189
          January 22, 2015
          677 Posts
          Offline
          Posted: July 19, 2015, 11:09 am - IP Logged

          Mea culpa..Massachusetts is 5%; Kentucky is 6% state tax.  Thank you jackpot analysis for setting me right!

            HoLeeKau's avatar - YheaShea
            Idaho
            United States
            Member #94283
            July 17, 2010
            2284 Posts
            Offline
            Posted: July 19, 2015, 12:05 pm - IP Logged

            I hope the judge put a garnishment on her salary at the tax prep place so he'll at least get some of his cash back.  I think there's a limit to how much can be garnished tho, isn't there?  Something like 25% of gross?  And I doubt tax preparers make all that much to begin with.

            That's one cold skank, stealing from her own brother, and even worse, when he could have been dying.

              Teddi's avatar - Lottery-008.jpg

              United States
              Member #142499
              May 13, 2013
              1186 Posts
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              Posted: July 19, 2015, 12:05 pm - IP Logged

              Seems her lawyer was better than the prosecutor. How was a no jail time option even on the table? And a restitution of less than 10¢ on the dollar? The whole decision was way too lenient. I don't know why but I get the feeling this brother would have been willing to help her if she'd told him she was in trouble. She on the other hand was banking on him dying. Instead of taking care of the business while he was sick so that his wife and children could count on an income from the business in case he did die, she stole even more. 

              And yet, she's who the lotto gods blessed with a big win. Now there's some irony for ya. If that doesn't prove randomness nothing else will.

                rcbbuckeye's avatar - Lottery-043.jpg
                Texas
                United States
                Member #55889
                October 23, 2007
                5615 Posts
                Offline
                Posted: July 19, 2015, 12:16 pm - IP Logged

                Seems her lawyer was better than the prosecutor. How was a no jail time option even on the table? And a restitution of less than 10¢ on the dollar? The whole decision was way too lenient. I don't know why but I get the feeling this brother would have been willing to help her if she'd told him she was in trouble. She on the other hand was banking on him dying. Instead of taking care of the business while he was sick so that his wife and children could count on an income from the business in case he did die, she stole even more. 

                And yet, she's who the lotto gods blessed with a big win. Now there's some irony for ya. If that doesn't prove randomness nothing else will.

                Her brother signed off on the deal. Just wanted to move past. He said it wasn't about the money.

                I'm not sure I could as big as he is. As I sit here, I'm thinking for me it would be about the money. But, a person never really knows about some things until they're in that position.

                CAN'T WIN IF YOU'RE NOT IN

                A DOLLAR AND A DREAM (OR $2)

                  Teddi's avatar - Lottery-008.jpg

                  United States
                  Member #142499
                  May 13, 2013
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                  Posted: July 19, 2015, 1:01 pm - IP Logged

                  Her brother signed off on the deal. Just wanted to move past. He said it wasn't about the money.

                  I'm not sure I could as big as he is. As I sit here, I'm thinking for me it would be about the money. But, a person never really knows about some things until they're in that position.

                  I get the brother just wanted to get on with his life, but it was the lawyers who brokered the deal to begin with. Had i been the prosecutor, I would have told her that any plea deal would involve jail time. I'm sick to death of these white collar criminals getting off with little more than slaps on the wrists. Hers wasn't even a one time offense. THREE YEARS. Then stole more when she thought he would die and she'd never get caught. That takes a special kind of sociopath.

                    mypiemaster's avatar - 2015021003pileofcash
                    JACKPOT HUNTER

                    United States
                    Member #141034
                    April 2, 2013
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                    Posted: July 19, 2015, 1:11 pm - IP Logged

                    Obviously this individual has some problems of which kleptomania seems to be just one of them.

                    Seek and ye shall find -Matt. 7:7 ...Ask and ye shall receive -John 16:24 ...Give and it shall be given unto you -Luke 6:38 ...Be careful what you ask for!!! -Mypiemaster 1:1

                    Having Money Solves Problems That Not Having Money Creates Yes Nod ****John Carlton****

                      CDanaT's avatar - tiger avatar_04_hd_pictures_169016.jpg
                      TX
                      United States
                      Member #121193
                      January 4, 2012
                      1637 Posts
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                      Posted: July 19, 2015, 2:26 pm - IP Logged

                      Nice......really impressive to find a family member that would start actively stealing due to an illness & personal greed.....Talk about the lack of moral fiber!! What a U.P.o S.
                      Glad I have only a few family members that I fully trust (but would still verify their integrity)

                      Stay Positive, Believe and good things will come your way

                        gocart1's avatar - lighthouse
                        ONEONTA,NEW YORK
                        United States
                        Member #30516
                        January 17, 2006
                        419 Posts
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                        Posted: July 19, 2015, 2:47 pm - IP Logged

                        Nice......really impressive to find a family member that would start actively stealing due to an illness & personal greed.....Talk about the lack of moral fiber!! What a U.P.o S.
                        Glad I have only a few family members that I fully trust (but would still verify their integrity)

                        I was always told to never go into business with family....I Agree!PartyUS FlagParty

                          Goteki54's avatar - Lottery-007.jpg
                          Baltimore, MD
                          United States
                          Member #143332
                          May 30, 2013
                          398 Posts
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                          Posted: July 19, 2015, 4:02 pm - IP Logged

                          This woman is grade A scum!! There isn't a place hot enough in hell for her  to do justice for what she did.1.  Stealing is bad enough 2.  Stealing from your family is even worse but 3.   Stealing from a SICK family member which happens to be your brother is (lower then low can get)!Hit With StickNo No

                          Following the trends and patterns means following the money!Banana

                            Bondi Junction
                            Australia
                            Member #57242
                            December 24, 2007
                            1102 Posts
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                            Posted: July 20, 2015, 3:35 am - IP Logged

                            Don't go into business with family members, or employ any family members, it often ends in tears.

                            We all get a lot out of lotteries!