Self-branded New York attorney is accused of stealing millions from his clients
By Kate Northrop
The self-titled "Lottery Lawyer" attorney who advised dozens of significant jackpot winners across the country is now being charged by New York federal prosecutors for stealing millions of dollars from his clients.
Jason "Jay" Kurland has been charged with conspiracy, wire fraud, and money laundering in an indictment revealed today.
Prosecutors are estimating that Kurland stole more than $80 million from his clients throughout his long-running scheme. One of his victims won the record-breaking $1.5 billion Mega Millions lottery jackpot in 2018, the second-largest jackpot to-date and the largest payout to a single player ever. Another winner he stole from won a $245 million Powerball jackpot in 2018. The cumulative winnings of all his victims over time amounts to about $3 billion.
Kurland has represented players from every corner of the nation, even appearing on national television to offer advice to lottery players everywhere.
"The biggest mistake people make is doing it on their own," he said of winning a big prize in 2019. "All the horror stories you hear is when people do it on their own."
An ironic statement, given the context.
According to prosecutors, Kurland advised the lottery winners to invest in entities managed by co-conspirators, which included former securities broker Frank Smookler, Christopher Chierchio, who is supposedly a big-name player in a Genovese crime family, and Frankie Russo.
Gerald J. McMahon, Chierchio's defense attorney, dismissed these accusations as fraudulent charges and claimed that his client was not involved in organized crime.
"If he were not Italian, there would be no accusation of this nature," he stated.
For pushing jackpot winners to invest in the co-conspirators' entities, Kurland was allegedly rewarded some of the cash. On the other end, Smookler, Chierchio, and Russo siphoned money from the investments.
Prosecutors described the schemers' lavish lifestyles in court documents, saying that they "profited handsomely" from their crimes and enjoyed the luxuries of "flying private jets, taking exotic vacations, buying boats, paying country club dues and even 'wrapping' luxury cars."
"Lottery winners can't believe their luck when they win millions of dollars, and the men we arrested this morning allegedly used that euphoric feeling to their advantage," FBI Assistant Director-in-Charge William Sweeney said. "The FBI New York discovered how these victims were persuaded to put large chunks of their cash into investments that benefited the defendants. Rather than try their luck at the lottery, these men resorted to defrauding the victims to get rich, but their gamble didn't pay off."
Thanks to Raven62 for the tip.