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March 15, 2012

Winner must share jackpot, jury rules

(UPI) -- A jury ruled Wednesday a lottery jackpot was won with a ticket bought by a pool of six, and the New Jersey man claiming sole ownership must share the prize.

An eight-person Union County jury unanimously agreed Americo Lopes, 52, cheated five colleagues who routinely bought lottery tickets as a group, and must share the $38.5 million prize he said he had won with a personally purchased ticket in 2009.

The five plaintiffs will equally share the $20 million judgment against Lopes, all of whom worked at a construction company in Elizabeth.

The case rested largely on testimony from the members of the lottery pool about their ticket-purchasing habits. One other employee at the firm testified the five men provided Lopes with pooled money to play the lottery on the day of the winning drawing.

The (Newark) Star-Ledger reported Lopes, his wife and his lawyer left the courtroom quickly after the decision, saying only "They robbed me" in his native Portuguese.

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