Monday, May 12, 2008

Florida Husband Hides Lotto Winnings from Wife: She Takes Him to Court

What's a wife to do when her husband starts to act suspiciously?

When Donna Campbell's husband, Arnim Ramdass began to behave in a suspicious manner, unplugging the phones and forbidding his wife to watch television. According to the Miami Herald, the "bells didn't go off" for Campbell until she found a postcard in the mail addressed to her husband, congratulating him on his purchase of out-of-state property.

It was then that the stay-at-home wife googled her husband in the internet and discovered he had been part of a group of co-workers who hit a giant Lotto jackpot of $19 million. The group opted for the lump sum which meant her husband had won $600,000 before taxes.

When Campbell asked him about the win he denied it and then disappeared. Campbell filed suit alleging her husband fraudulently hid the win from her. He has since resurfaced after dodging process servers. He's back at his old job and even drops by their home but the couple do not speak.

Campbell and Ramdass married in 2005. The lotto win was last year in June. There's a scheduled hearing on Thursday where a judge will decide whether Campbell's case has merit.

So we wondered, if a spouse wins a giant jackpot in Lotto do they have to split it with their partner?

We found a different case in Florida where a U.S Postal Service employee won a $60 million jackpot and elected to take the $34.7 million lump sum payout. It would be a month before Robert G. Swofford Jr. came forward and claimed his prize. He and his wife had separated 3 years earlier but two weeks after his big win word had leaked out and his wife filed for divorce and claimed her share of the prize.

Swofford says he remembers a Lotto winner in California who tried to keep his win secret from his wife and filed for divorce, according to Swofford, the judge took the winner "to the cleaners and made him pay everything he had left out of his winnings".

Swofford's right, the California winner was Denise Rossi who was ordered by a divorce judge in 1999 to forfeit her entire Lotto Jackpot of $1.3 million to her husband. Rossi admitted hiding her win, her husband found out when he opened a letter addressed to her. They had been married 25 years. Rossi claimed her husband was a bum and that it was she who supported the family.

They had filed for divorce, the proceedings had crawled along for three years, 11 days before the divorce was finalized, fate stepped in, and Rossi and five co-workers hit a 6.6 California lottery jackpot. State law says 50% goes to the spouse, deadbeat or not. Rossi was penalized by the judge ruling that she had to pay her spouse over a period of twenty years the sum of $66,800 annually.

Swofford and his wife reached an agreement, $5.25 million to the wife plus $1 million set aside in child support for a son.

Tampa attorney Joe Registrato commented on the Swofford case, bursting the bubble of every spouse contemplating hiding a big win from a future ex-spouse in the state of Florida, stating that the spouse who was left out of the winnings, at least while the couple were considered legally married by law, could file for half the winnings, because it's considered marital property.

In the case of Campbell versus Ramdass, Campbell could conceivably end up with half of the $600,000 Ramdass won, that's if he hasn't already spent it.

The moral of the story, if you're still legally married then the lottery wins are considered marital property, judges frown on hiding the loot, no matter if your soon-to-be ex-spouse has been bum your entire married life. You may not have to split the dough 50/50, that's where a good divorce lawyer comes in, you may be able to negotiate a smaller settlement rather than handing off all the loot.


Source - Miami Herald - Couple's Lotto Dispute Going to Court

Source - sptimes - 07-08-28-29-31-33 wins; D-I-V-O-R-C-E splits it up
Source - BBC News - World: America's Divorcee loses lottery jackpot
Image - Wheel of Fortune

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