If you strike a multi-million - dollar jackpot playing the lottery, you are likely to want to consult an attorney. Don't just turn towards Jason Kurland. He is accused of stealing $70 million from one major winner, known as the "Lottery Lawyer".
That goes back to an October 2018 record $1.537 billion Mega Millions jackpot. For obvious reasons the South Carolina single winner decided to remain anonymous. She has agreed to wait several months for the winning ticket to come forward. This was in March of 2019.
She wanted to consult a lawyer as she had suggested on such a big award. She could then determine a prize-payment option together with a wealth management specialist.
Fast forward to the present and the office of the US Attorney for New York's Eastern District. This office reports that their illicit activities have cost Kurland, along with three other co-conspirators, tens of millions to the winner.
Also named in this case were:
- Christopher Chierchio (age 52)
- Frangesco Russo (age 38)
- Francis Smookler (age 45)
All three are New York residents alongside the 46-year-old Kurland. An online platform advertising his services listed the need for professional consultation. It said that those initial decisions "could end up costing or saving millions upon millions of dollars for you and your family."
Federal prosecutors contend that three major lottery winners took advantage of Kurland and his party. One winner hit a $245 million Powerball jackpot. The other has won a $150 million lottery jackpot.
Each of these victims paid large sums of money to hire the legal services offered by Kurland. In this case, after gaining their trust, the investments were guided to various business projects managed by the other three parties. Kurland got substantial cash-kickbacks in exchange.
The Justice Department has estimated that out of a combined $107 million, Kurland was swindling his three clients.
In this case William Sweeney is the Assistant Director-in-Charge of the FBI. He gave the following statement:
- "Lottery winners, when they win millions of dollars, can not believe their luck. And this morning, the men we arrested reportedly used the euphoric feeling to their benefit. The FBI New York discovered how these victims were convinced to spend huge chunks of their cash to support the defendants.
- South Carolina's major winner has agreed to accept $877.8 million as a lump sum bonus. This was the biggest jackpot ever for a single winner in the US lottery. A significant portion of the money has been donated to numerous causes throughout the state since her election.
- Kurland acknowledges that during his 20-year career, he supported lottery winners of jackpots totalling $3 billion. He insists however that he did nothing wrong. Authorities are looking a little different at things.
- He was charged, in this case, with 21 counts. There are six counts of theft over cable. There are eight other charges including wire fraud and money laundering for honest services.