Entries in Massachusetts (7)


Costco Co-Workers Split $50M Powerball Win

William Thomas Cain/Getty Images(WALTHAM, Mass.) -- The Massachusetts Lottery confirmed two Costco co-workers are the winners of a $50 million Powerball prize.

According to lottery officials, 52-year-old Rosa DeLeon and 54-year-old Reginald LeBlanc, who work at the Costco in Waltham, Mass., bought the winning ticket to Wednesday’s jackpot.

The Boston Globe reports that over the past 10 months, DeLeon would regularly buy two Powerball tickets, write their names on the back, and give LeBlanc a copy.

On Thursday, her weekly purchases paid off.

The two appeared at a news conference at state lottery headquarters to accept a $33 million lump-sum payment, which comes to $23.1 million after taxes.

The winning ticket, sold at a Shell gas station in Lexington, Mass., had the numbers 8-10-25-36-44, and a Powerball of 28.

“About a year ago we sold a $1 million ticket. Not a $50 million, but still pretty good,” Shell store manager Adam Muise told ABC News.

Muise says LeBlanc came into his store this morning with the winning ticket, somewhat in shock.

“He walked in and he stood off to the side and didn’t really say anything,” Muise said. “We asked if he needed help with anything and continued to talk about someone winning, and he calmly said, ‘I won.’ He had a copy of the winning ticket.”

Muise said his fellow store workers congratulated LeBlanc, who said he was waiting for the friend with whom he was splitting the money.

The lucky store location, which sold a $1 million winning scratch-off ticket last year, will receive a $50,000 commission for selling the ticket.

“I hope that people feel that we’re lucky and come in and buy some lottery tickets and some more Powerball, and help our sales out over here,” Muise said.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Junk Haulers Find ’70s Bonds Worth Thousands in Cast-Off Hope Chest

ABC News(MEDFORD, Mass.) -- When Marie Veloso called the junk collectors to have her late mother’s old hope chest hauled away, she was certain it contained nothing of value.

“I just wanted them to take it away. I didn’t have the key, anyway,” said Veloso, 50, of Medford, Mass., whose mother died in August 2011.

Insisting that she at least take a look inside, the men from Junk Depot used a sledge hammer to break the lock and open the chest. But Veloso still wasn’t interested. She told the men just to haul the chest away.

“I didn’t look through it thoroughly. I was in a hurry,” Veloso told ABC News.

So Veloso was in for a huge surprise when the men returned on Oct. 6 with television cameras in tow.

It turned out that Junk Depot owner Leo Guarente and his crew had found more than $22,000 worth of bonds from 1972 and 1973. Today, those bonds are worth $113,954.

“We’ve found Confederate money, gold coins, a letter from President Truman. But never anything this substantial,” said Guarente.

Guarente hopes to spin his company’s rarer finds into a reality TV show called Trash to Cash, akin to another treasure-hunting show, A&E’s Storage Wars.

Veloso had no idea when or how her mother came to possess the bonds, but plans to split the money with her brother, who is currently planning a wedding. With her half, Veloso plans to renovate her home, including new tile and new wall paper for the kitchen.

Veloso also wants everyone to know that Leo Guarente and his employees at Junk Depot have integrity.

“They could have kept it, but they didn’t,” she said. “That is a very good company. An honest company. I’m on Cloud 9. Cloud 10!”

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Massachusetts Man Wins $1 Million by Accident

Ingram Publishing/Thinkstock(BOSTON) -- A Taunton, Mass., man had luck on his side last week when a scratch-off lottery ticket game he didn’t really want paid off big-time, according to 

Richard Brown, 60, made his usual trip to a Gulf gas station in Taunton last Monday to buy a $5 Blue Ice 7s ticket.  Except, this time, a distracted attendant handed him a $5 Sizzling Sevens scratch-off ticket by mistake.

According to lottery officials, Brown didn’t complain or ask for a different ticket.  He decided to just "roll with it," and now he’s rolling in dough.

Brown scratched off the $1 million grand prize, which will give the chef and grandfather an immediate one-time payment of $650,000 before taxes.  The odds of winning the million dollar prize were 1 in 4.2 million.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Massachusetts Lottery Critics Say Game Cheated Public

Stockbyte/Thinkstock(BOSTON) -- Outraged lottery players and others in Massachusetts say lottery officials committed a “significant breach of trust” by allowing a now-defunct state lottery game to continue, even though they knew large syndicates were “likely to claim an inordinately large share of the prize money,” according to a report by the  Massachusetts Inspector General.

Charged with detecting and preventing fraud involving public funds, the Inspector General’s office has published a report on the Massachusetts State Lottery’s Cash WinFall game, which ended in January. The report described how high-volume bettors made millions from the game, sometimes aided by lottery retailers, while lottery officials allowed the game to continue.

One of the four syndicates identified was a group of students from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, who made at least $3.5 million before taxes, the Inspector General’s Office estimates.

The report tells of James Harvey, a student who, in his last semester at MIT in January 2005, decided to evaluate which lottery games were the most advantageous from the player’s perspective.

He soon realized that each ticket for Cash Winfall was worth more than it cost and that it was possible to make a profit by buying large numbers of tickets during certain periods.

Harvey, whose interview was described in the report, declined to say how much the group had won. ABC News could not reach Harvey for comment.

Though the lottery organization was aware of syndicate betting in 2005, it wasn’t until six years later that State Treasurer Steven Grossman and the Massachusetts State Lottery asked the Inspector General’s office to conduct a review of the game’s design and the way it was administered. This was prompted by reports last year about the syndicates in the Boston Globe.

Instead of being driven by large jackpots, once the betting pool for Cash WinFall reached $2 million with no winner, the game was designed to “roll-down” the pool to lower-tier prizes, increasing the winnings for those categories, the State Treasurer’s office said.  Thus, playing the game during a roll-down draw was more lucrative than during regular draws. In some cases, depending upon the total number of tickets sold, there was a jump from $4,000 to as much as $134,000 for a match of five of six numbers, the Globe reported.

Because the odds of winning changed, players took advantage of that loophole. Convenience store owners reportedly bought as many tickets as they could once they realized they could win multiple times.

In a statement, Grossman said the, “game’s design was not flawed, and it worked as intended.” The treasurer’s office also said the Inspector General, “found no evidence of any illicit activities or collusion among bettors, Lottery officials, or Lottery agents,” and, “no players were disadvantaged by the game.”

“The game was profitable for the Lottery and the taxpayers benefited from those profits, which were returned to the Commonwealth’s General Fund for unrestricted local aid and other purposes,” the state treasurer’s office said in its statement.

However, some people question whether the lottery organization stretched rules for a game that was profitable for the state.

“The result was big jackpots for people in the know, blockbuster profits for the lottery -- and a significant breach of trust with the general public,” said a Boston Globe editorial.

The  treasurer’s office said that until the Boston Globe, “brought the matter to light, the Lottery was passive in its response to the problem even though it was well aware of the syndicates’ activities.” The lottery eventually shut down the syndicate betting for the remainder of Cash WinFall’s life and suspended the licenses of agents who had inappropriately assisted the syndicates.

The treasurer’s office acknowledged, “These steps should have been taken much sooner.”

The Lottery Commission did not immediately return a request for comment.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Mass. Plumber Wins $1K a Day for Life Lottery

Zoonar/Thinkstock(HANOVER, Mass.) -- Bruce Campbell, a plumber from Hanover, Mass., came forward on Tuesday as the winner of the Lucky for Life lottery, receiving $1,000 a day for the rest of his life.

Campbell, 39, received his first weekly prize of $7,000 for a minimum of 20 years. Should any grand prize winner die before 20 years of payments, the money would go to the winner’s estate.

Campbell, who is not married, emphasized during a press conference that the prize would not change his ways. Campbell said he would continue working but will buy a Cadillac and a Harley Davidson motorcycle, according to Lottery spokeswoman Beth Bresnahan.

“He knows what he wants and we’re happy this prize can get him there,” Bresnahan told the Boston Globe.

After taxes, $350 deducted with Massachusetts’ 5 percent state tax and $1,750 in federal taxes, the weekly prize nets about $4,900.

A childhood friend of Campbell’s owns the store, Myette’s Country Store in Hanover, that sold the winning ticket. Campbell said he decided to play the game at the suggestion of his friend, who told him about the new game when he came into the store. The store is receiving a $50,000 commission.

Lucky for Life tickets are $2 each and can be purchased at lottery retailers in Connecticut, Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Rhode Island, and Vermont.

The first lottery game to be played in all six New England states, Lucky for Life ticket sales began on March 11 and the first drawing was held on March 15.  All six of Campbell’s numbers were drawn: 1-2-6-10-19, and Lucky Ball 15.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Massachusetts Lottery Closes Loophole after Big Wins

Adam Gault/Thinkstock(BRAINTREE, Mass.) -- It was great while it lasted, for the few who knew the trick and had the money to take advantage of it.

A lottery game in Massachusetts, known as Cash WinFall, had a potentially lucrative quirk, provided you knew about it. Every three months or so, if the WinFall jackpot exceeded $2 million but nobody picked all six of the randomly-chosen winning numbers, the money in the jackpot pool would go to people who picked only four or five correct numbers.

The Massachusetts Lottery said the odds of picking all six numbers were 1 in 9,366,819. But during so-called "rolldown weeks," someone who picked five numbers could win as much as $135,000 -- and the odds of success swung down to a much easier to beat 1 in 39,000.

If you bought enough tickets, the odds of making a profit could be very high, said a state official who asked not to be quoted by name.

The Lottery Commission said a Michigan couple, Gerald and Marjorie Selbee, both 73, periodically came to western Massachusetts to buy tickets in bulk, often by the hundreds of thousands. They even got themselves temporary jobs at local stores -- he in the town of South Deerfield, she in nearby Sunderland -- so that they could systematically sell themselves tickets without troubling store clerks.

It would be in a store's interest to have them, said officials; a store gets a 5 percent commission on every ticket sold, and a 1 percent bonus if it sells a winning ticket.

Messages left for the Selbees in Michigan and Massachusetts were not immediately returned. Apparently they ran a profit. Since July 1, the Lottery Commission says the company they set up for tax purposes "made 187 prize claims totaling $206,649." That did not include lottery tickets that won them amounts of $600 or less.

According to the Lottery Commission, the WinFall game has already been fading in popularity, and will be ended next year.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Massachusetts Man Fired after Telling Employer His Wife Has Cancer

Jupiterimages/Thinkstock(BOSTON) -- Companies with fewer than 50 employees may offer little legal protection for employees requiring medical leave. Carl Sorabella of Natick, Mass., learned that the hard way.

Sorabella, an accountant, said that after he told his employer his wife had lung cancer and would need a modified schedule to deal with it, he received a termination letter the following week.

"This is not an unprecedented situation," David Frank, a legal analyst with Lawyers Weekly, told ABC affiliate WCVB.

Frank said the termination is likely legal in part because laws protect firms that employ fewer than 50 people. Sorabella said his former company had about 20 employees.

The Family and Medical Leave Act, for example, only applies to private employers with 50 or more employees working within 75 miles of the worksite. That federal law gives employees up to 12 weeks of unpaid leave per year for serious health conditions or to care for an immediate family member with a serious health condition.

"The reality of life is that it is a lot more difficult for a small company to deal with a situation where an employee is going to be out of work for an extended period of time than it is for a larger company," Frank said.

Sorabella said he and his wife of 23 years, Kathy, learned she had stage 4 incurable cancer in late April. He said he asked his employer, Haynes Management, a real estate company in Wellesley Hills, Mass., that week for a more flexible work schedule to deal with his wife's care. Sorabella, 43, says he offered to work evenings and weekends while he accompanies his wife, 44, during testing and treatments.

"Ultimately [my boss] said don't worry about it and come in on Monday, and when I came in on Monday I got a letter that I would be laid off," he said. Sorabella said the letter stated he was being laid off due to "workforce modifications." But one week after he was fired, he says he saw a listing for his job on the company website.

"She said, 'It's business. I'm running a company here, and I need to make sure the department runs.' And I argued that I would make sure the company runs," Sorabella said.

Sorabella, who had worked for the company for 14 years, says he had even received a raise in November.

In an email, vice president of Haynes Management Mary Butler told WCVB "this is a private personnel matter and we are not going to comment publicly."

The company did not immediately respond to a request for additional comment.

Sorabella said he is speaking with an attorney and may look to the Massachusetts Commission Against Discrimination, but he said there is almost no recourse for a small business, even if they have millions of dollars in annual sales.

Kathy Sorabella, 44, said she was just as shocked as her husband when he was laid off. She said he was a diligent employee who went to work early and left late.

Kathy, currently undergoing chemotherapy, said she is considering trying to obtain a part-time job despite her nausea and loss of appetite. Kathy said her cancer had not spread as far as initially believed, though she will not know if she has a year or 10 years to live until her next CAT scan in three months.

For now, Sorabella and his wife are surviving on his unemployment and her disability insurance while he looks for work.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

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