A 76-year-old woman claims her son stole her $51 million winning lottery ticket and filed suit against him a California state court.
The saga began in May 2011 when Etta May Urquhart of Bakersfield, Calif., checked the newspaper and saw that one of the Mega Millions lottery tickets she held contained the winning numbers, according to a declaration Urquhart submitted along with the suit filed on April 23.
Then she asked her son, Ronnie Lee Orender, to double-check that the numbers matched up. When the good news was indeed confirmed, Urquhart drove to the gas station where she had bought the ticket with Orender and her husband, according to Urquhart's declaration.
When Urquhart arrived at the gas station, lottery officials were already there awaiting her arrival. In her declaration, Urquhard claims she was so overwhelmed that she had her son endorse the winning ticket:
"I was very emotional the entire time," Urquhart claimed in the declaration. "Lottery officials requested the winning ticket be signed, but I could not even hold a pen. I was told that it did not matter who signed the ticket. My son Ronnie Orender signed the ticket on my behalf."
Orender told Urquhart he would handle the money, according to the declaration.
"I told him I wanted to take care of our family and he told me he would do that for me," Urquhart wrote in the declaration.
On May 5, 2011, lottery officials announced Orender was the winner of the lottery jackpot, according to Urquhart's complaint. At a press conference, both Urquhart and Orender appeared in person to claim the lump sum winnings, which totaled $32.3 million before taxes, according to the Examiner.
Urquhart had played the lottery for 18 years, purchasing tickets twice weekly, according to her declaration.
"Ronnie Orender was not supportive of my weekly lottery ticket purchases. He discouraged me from playing and told me it was a waste of my money," Urquhart wrote in the declaration.
After collecting the winnings, Orender went on a shopping spree, purchasing four homes and 10 cars, a watercraft and a motor home, according to Urquhart's complaint. Additionally, court documents allege Orender made cash gifts of about $350,000 to his daughters.
"Ronnie Orender is my son, and I lived with him for over 18 years," Urquhart wrote in the declaration. "I know Ronnie Orender does not have any means to make the purchases or cash gifts described in this declaration with any monies other than those received from my lottery winnings."
"Of the total lottery winnings received, I have received approximately $125,000 in cash, a Lincoln SUV and I have been provided a house to live in, but I am not the owner of the house," Urquhart said.
Calls to Orender were not immediately returned on Friday.
Barry Goldner, Urquhart's attorney, told The Huffington Post that he has not heard from Orender or from any lawyers on his behalf since the suit was filed.
Urquhart and her husband, Bob, are seeking $32 million in damages for fraud, conspiracy to commit fraud, conversion, constructive trust and financial elder abuse, according to the complaint, which was filed in Kern Superior Court on April 23.
A South Carolina woman's luck stopped short after she told a few friends about her winning $500 ticket. Willie Jones, a friend of the winner, was <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/07/19/south-carolina-stolen-lottery-ticket_n_1686630.html" target="_hplink">charged with stealing her ticket</a>.
After John Ross Jr. won a 'Set For Life' scratch off game, he was looking forward to turning his life around. However, Ross soon <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/06/12/john-ross-california-lott_n_1590089.html" target="_hplink">found himself behind bars</a> after he allegedly helped a woman hide and repair a stolen car.
Mirlande Wilson, a McDonald's employee in Baltimore, claimed she <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/04/02/mirlande-wilson-maryland-mcdonalds-worker_n_1396943.html" target="_hplink">had won the record-high $656 million Mega Millions jackpot </a>and that she <a href="http://www.nypost.com/p/news/local/what_mega_mess_wHA9HVdfxA1VDSqWn58KtJ" target="_hplink">was not going to share her winnings</a> with co-workers, who alleged that Wilson was a part of a workplace lottery pool. Wilson announced that she had <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/04/04/marlinde-wilson-mega-millions-winner-ticket-mcdonalds_n_1402892.html" target="_hplink">hid the winning ticket at a McDonald's</a> and subsequently <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/04/06/mirlande-wilson-mega-millions-mcdonalds_n_1408105.html" target="_hplink">claimed to have lost the ticket</a>. In the end, it was revealed<a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/04/10/maryland-mega-millions-winner_n_1414857.html" target="_hplink"> Wilson never even had the winning ticket</a>.
A group including MIT undergraduates and a biomedical researcher <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/08/02/massachusetts-cash-winfall-lottery_n_1729416.html" target="_hplink">discovered a loophole in the Cash WinFall game</a> that netted them nearly $48 million. Apparently, lottery officials knew about the scam since at least 2010, but did nothing about it because it generated $16 million in revenue for the state.
Retired hospice chaplain Ron Yurcus <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/11/15/ron-yurcus-glen-ellyn-lot_n_2139308.html">stumbled across a million-dollar miracle when he found a winning lottery ticket while cleaning out his desk</a> in November 2012. He had purchased the Powerball ticket from a BP gas station two months earlier.
After <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/04/06/mirlande-wilson-mega-millions-mcdonalds_n_1408105.html" target="_hplink">McDonald's employee Mirlande Wilson</a> falsely claimed she won Mega Millions' record $656 million jackpot, three <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/04/10/maryland-mega-millions-winner_n_1414857.html?ref=money#s785675&title=Undocumented_Immigrant_Awarded" target="_hplink">Maryland school teachers</a> stepped forward to claim their share of the prize.
Two brothers from central New York who <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/11/13/andy-and-nayel-ashkar-lottery-scam_n_2123886.html">claimed a $5 million lottery ticket sold at their family's store were accused in November 2012 of scamming the winning ticket from a customer.</a> Andy Ashkar, 34, and Nayel Ashkar, 36, are charged with second-degree attempted grand larceny and fourth-degree conspiracy.
John Turner, a 38-year-old Chicago man, <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/11/11/john-turner-wins-lottery-_n_2105194.html">bought a winning $100,000 lottery ticket </a>after coming to New Jersey to help clean up after Hurricane Sandy. Turner runs National Catastrophe Solutions of Chicago, a local water removal business.
A homeless man in Greenville, S.C. <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/10/19/homeless-man-wins-lottery-greenville_n_1989771.html">won $200,000 from a scratch-off lottery game</a> in October 2012.
Nicholas Ruth, a 19-year-old cancer survivor, <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/09/26/nicholas-ruth-teen-cancer-survivor-mega-millions-lottery-video_n_1916132.html">matched five of the six numbers in the state's Mega Millions lottery</a>, earning himself a second-tier prize of $250,000 in September 2012. After taxes, Ruth will have about $165,000 to spend and plans to donate some of his money back to the organizations that helped him with his leukemia.
Willie McPherson, 74, and Christopher Manzi, 44, <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/10/06/mcpherson-manzi-mega-millions-lottery-25-years_n_1944181.html#slide=757174">won a $14 million jackpot in September 2012 </a>after playing the Mega Millions lottery together for 25 years, according to the New York Post. The two had been buying lottery tickets together after becoming friends while working at Manzi’s print shop in Manhattan.
A store clerk in England tried to turn in 77-year-old Maureen Holt's winning lottery ticket himself after <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/08/02/lottery-ticket-stolen-from-great-grandmother_n_1733871.html" target="_hplink">telling her it was a losing ticket</a>.
Ryan Kitching, a Scottish teenager,<a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/03/04/ryan-kitching-teenage-winning-lottery-tickert-clean-room_n_1319413.html" target="_hplink"> found a winning lottery ticket hiding in his bedroom</a> after his mother told him to clean his room. The ticket is worth more than $80,000.
One Chicago couple won <a href="http://articles.chicagotribune.com/2011-11-06/news/ct-met-anonymous-lottery-20111106_1_lottery-winners-illinois-lottery-lottery-jackpot" target="_hplink">$30 million in the Illinois lottery</a>, but didn't even tell their kids, according to the <em>Chicago Tribune</em>.
Greg Skidmore, Brandon Lacoff and Tim Davidson, who work at an asset management firm in Greenwich, one of the most affluent towns in America, <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/11/29/254-million-jackpot-connecticut-money-managers_n_1119321.html">came forward as lottery winners in 2011</a>. Their lawyer said they formed a trust to manage the money after Davidson bought the $1 winning ticket at a Stamford gas station.
Amanda Clayton, 24-year-old from the Detroit-area,<a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/03/08/amanda-clayton-michigan-lottery-food-assistance-stamps_n_1330716.html" target="_blank"> continued collecting $200 in government food assistance</a> after she won a $1 million lotto prize.
<a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/03/09/jose-antonio-cua-toc-undocumented-immigrant-lottery-ticket_n_1334564.html" target="_hplink">Jose Antonio Cua-Toc, a foreign national from Guatemala,</a> sued his former boss to reclaim his lotto money, which he had given to his employer out of fear of being exposed as an undocumented immigrant. Cua-Toc won the lawsuit.
The winner of an <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/12/30/iowa-lottery-winner-last-minute_n_1176971.html">Iowa Lottery ticket in 2011 </a>valued at $16.5 million waited until two hours before the deadline to claim the prize. The ticket was purchased nearly one year ago.
In 2011, <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/09/03/winning-80k-lottery-ticke_n_947272.html">an anonymous donor stepped in to help a Georgia church that was burglarized with a winning $80,000</a> lottery ticket the Associated Press reports.