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New Jersey court orders Mega Millions winner to share jackpot

By the CNN Wire Staff
updated 8:46 PM EDT, Thu March 15, 2012
A court ruled that Americo Lopes had fraudulently claimed the entire Mega Millions lottery jackpot.
A court ruled that Americo Lopes had fraudulently claimed the entire Mega Millions lottery jackpot.
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Five other construction workers based in Elizabeth, New Jersey, will share the jackpot
  • A court rules that Lopes had fraudulently claimed the entire bounty
  • The $38.5 million ticket amounted to $24 million after Lopes chose the cash option
  • They are expected to be awarded about $2 million each, after taxes and attorneys' fees

(CNN) -- Americo Lopes, a New Jersey construction worker who scored a Mega Millions lottery jackpot in 2009, tried to cheat his fellow workers out of their share of the pool by claiming the ticket as exclusively his own, a jury has ruled.

Five other construction workers based in Elizabeth, New Jersey, will share the jackpot after a state court ruled unanimously that Lopes had fraudulently claimed the entire bounty. The $38.5 million ticket amounted to $24 million after Lopes chose the cash option.

The plaintiffs were identified as Candido Silva Jr., Carlos Fernandes, Daniel Esteves, Candido Silva Sr. and Jose Sousa, according to court spokeswoman Sandra Thaler-Gerber.

They are expected to be awarded about $2 million each, after taxes and attorneys' fees, she said.

"They feel vindicated," said attorney Rubin M. Sinins, who said the group of workers had chipped in on the pool since 2007.

New Jersey's The Star-Ledger newspaper reported that Lopes responded to the ruling by saying "They robbed me."

His wife, Margarida, added that "justice was not served today," the newspaper reported.

After scoring the winning ticket, Lopes apparently told his boss at Berto Construction Inc. that he needed extended time off because of foot surgery, according to testimony.

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