Moore says having lottery winners' identities revealed "puts a target on them"
By Kate Northrop
The woman who was convicted for killing Florida Lottery winner Abraham Shakespeare said in a phone interview that she supports anonymous prize claims as a measure to protect lottery winners from harm.
Dee Dee Moore, now 49, was found guilty of first-degree murder and possessing and discharging a firearm on Dec. 10, 2012 after prosecutors argued that she swindled and then killed Shakespeare. She is currently serving a life sentence at Lowell Correctional Institution in Ocala.
In a phone interview with Fresh Take Florida, Moore argued against revealing the identities of lottery winners as it puts their lives at risk.
"It puts a target on them," she said in the interview.
Last month, the Florida House passed bill HB 159 that would allow lottery winners of $250,000 and over to keep their identity hidden from public eye for a limited period of 90 days. The Senate passed the bill on a vote of 37-1 more recently, and Governor Ron DeSantis is expected to sign it into law as early as this month.
"At some point in our lives, we all dream of winning the lottery," bill sponsor Tracie Davis said before the bill made it to the Senate. "But unfortunately for some people, that dream of winning the lottery, sometimes those dreams become nightmares."
The new piece of legislation brought the case of Shakespeare's murder back into light, which lawmakers used to bolster their argument in favor of added protections for lottery players who suddenly come into huge fortunes.
"The reason behind the 90 days is to give a lottery winner sufficient time to plan responsibly by notifying family, obtaining financial advice, and even getting the funds into investments," Senator Tina Polsky explained in support of the bill. "It will also provide time for the winner to put security measures in place while ultimately disclosing the information to the public."
Moore befriended Shakespeare a couple years after he won the lottery in 2006, claiming she was writing a book about how people were taking advantage of him. Later, prosecutors claimed, she became his financial adviser, eventually controlling every asset he had left, including an expensive home, debt owed to him, and a $1.5 million annuity.
Once Shakespeare understood what was going on, he threatened to kill her, but Moore got to him first. She shot him and buried his body under a concrete slab in her backyard. She is currently serving life without parole.
While the proposed legislation is an added precaution for players who may potentially be at risk, Moore says that the limited 90-day period of anonymity is not enough.
"I don't feel that's enough time," she told Fresh Take Florida. "You've got to understand, this person has to change their whole life around."
She went on to say that a winner should not have to disclose whether they chose a lump-sum payout or annuity payments, and that the winner would need at least six months of privacy.
"Ninety days is nothing — you see how quick time flies," Moore continued.
As of now, the Florida Lottery withholds the addresses and phone numbers of lottery winners from public eye, but names are made public so as to advertise legitimate wins of "real" people. The proposed bill would still allow the names of winners to be disclosed to the state to crosscheck for any outstanding debt or child support.
The only person who voted against the measure in the Senate was Senator Ray Rodrigues, while the one dissenting vote in the House came from Anthony Sabatini.
"People want to know who won the lottery — a government-run, taxpayer-funded program," Sabatini maintained.