Almost two years after he bought a winning lottery ticket and gave it to his boss to cash for fear of being exposed as an undocumented immigrant, Jose Antonio Cua-Toc was awarded the lottery prize by a Houston County, Georgia, superior court jury, reported The Macon Telegraph.
Cua-Toc, a 27 year old from Guatemala, will receive the proceedings from the $750,000 – less than $500,000 after taxes, in addition to $207,000 in attorney fees, and $25,000 in punitive charges.
The Huffington Post reported last week that Cua-Toc sued his employer, Erick Cervantes, for allegedly stealing the ticket. Cervantes denied it, claiming instead that he gave his worker money to buy it, together with cigarettes.
According to one of the jurors, “the jury’s verdict came down to surveillance video from the store where the ticket was purchased. The video shows a smiling Cua-Toc raising his hands in the air after the winning ticket is validated by the store owner.”
One of Cua-Toc's attorneys, who played the video to the jurors, asked “Is this the reaction of somebody who bought a ticket for someone else and is going to have to give it to his boss tomorrow?”
The judge instructed the jurors that Georgia law does not prohibit the sale of a lottery ticket to a foreign national over the age of 18.
Regarding Cua-Toc's immigration status, The Macon reports that:
Cua-Toc, who had been living in Fort Valley after an Atlanta immigration attorney won him the right in September to stay in the country for the civil case, is currently serving 44 days in the Houston County jail on a Jan. 31 drunken driving conviction.
A U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement hold was placed against Cua-Toc Jan. 31. Generally, ICE holds are not activated until after adjudication of a local criminal case, which includes sentencing, according to ICE spokesman Vincent Picard.