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Claimed Prize Does Not End Powerball Speculation

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Powerball winners (WTIC Photo)

Powerball winners (WTIC Photo)

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Ever since it was announced that the winning ticket for the $254 million Powerball jackpot earlier this month was sold in Connecticut,  the prize has drawn public interest and speculation.  Now,  even though the prize has been claimed,  that attention has not gone away.

The Connecticut Lottery says it has been receiving inquiries about the quarter-billion-dollar Powerball jackpot claimed Monday.  Published and broadcast reports have raised speculation that the three Greenwich investment advisors who showed up with their attorney were not themselves the winner,  but were a front for a client who did not wish to be identified.

The lottery directed inquiries about the jackpot claim to the attorney representing the “Putnam Avenue Family Trust,” Jason Kurland.  And it pointed out that Powerball winners frequently are identified as individuals, trusts, partnerships or other legal entities.  The lottery statement says, “The CT Lottery processed the November 2, 2011 Powerball jackpot claim in accordance with applicable rules and integrity standards.”

The trust issued a statement denying any anonymous fourth participant.

 

NEW HAVEN, Conn. (AP) _ Three money managers awarded a $254 million Powerball jackpot said Tuesday there’s no fourth participant despite a claim they’re covering for a winner who wants to stay anonymous.

Greg Skidmore, Brandon Lacoff and Tim Davidson, who work at an asset management firm in Greenwich, one of the most affluent towns in America, came forward as the lottery winners Monday. Their lawyer said they formed a trust to manage the money after Davidson bought the $1 winning ticket at a Stamford gas station.

But Thomas Gladstone, who identified himself as the landlord for the men’s company, said he was surprised to learn Lacoff was among the winners because he made no mention of it when he saw him Friday. So Gladstone called Lacoff on

“He said, `No, I didn’t win the lottery. We’re representing the guy who did,”’ Gladstone said. “He said he represents the guy who’s staying anonymous.”

Asked who the real winner is, Gladstone said, “They’re protecting him. That’s the whole purpose of putting this in this trust.”

He said the real winner, a client of the men’s firm, wants anonymity because people “get harassed and hounded when they win the lottery.”

His claim was first reported by the Daily Mail newspaper of Britain.

A statement from the men’s Putnam Avenue Family Trust said “there has been much speculation and quite a bit of misinformation over the last 24 hours.” It said the trust was established to manage the winnings to help those who can benefit from the money.

“And to be clear, there are a total of three trustees and there is no anonymous fourth participant,” the statement

The trust promised to distribute $1 million in the next 10 days to organizations in the New York-New Jersey-Connecticut area that help veterans.

“The three trustees consider this the first stop on what we see as a journey of philanthropy in the months and years to come,” the statement said. “We recognize that we have been literally blessed with a winning hand when it came to playing a simple game of chance. We also recognize that, as a result, we have a moral obligation to ensure these dollars are put to their best possible use in the shortest possible time to help the broadest number of people in need.”

Gladstone said the anonymous winner is the beneficiary of the trust.

But a trust spokesman, Gary Lewi, insisted there is no secret lottery winner.

“I am afraid Mr. Gladstone is mistaken,” he said.

The men’s attorney, Jason Kurland, did not return repeated telephone calls, an email and Facebook messages Tuesday. Messages also were left with the men.

Connecticut Lottery Corporation president Anne Noble said she could not confirm or deny rumors swirling around the prize. She said officials are processing the payout for the winners who came forward Monday.

“The Connecticut lottery followed its policies and procedures, and we are obliged to pay the bearer of the instrument,” she said.

Lottery winners in Connecticut are generally determined by who is holding the ticket, which is why authorities urge winners to sign the backs of their tickets. Winners are designated as public information under Connecticut’s freedom of information laws.

Lottery officials said they processed the jackpot claim “in accordance with applicable rules and integrity standards.”

“It is not uncommon for Powerball winners to be identified as individuals, trusts, partnerships or other legal entities,” the lottery said in a statement.

Kurland said Monday that the men contacted him immediately after the Nov. 2 drawing and came forward after making plans for the money. He said that the trust will take the after-tax lump sum of $103,586,824.51 cash and that a significant amount will go to charity.

“Obviously, everybody is extremely excited,” Kurland said. “These numbers are huge. This is going to benefit many people.”

The jackpot was the largest won in Connecticut and the 12th biggest in Powerball history. The largest previous lottery jackpot in Connecticut was $59.5 million in June 2005.

The three men work at Belpointe, which provides investment advice, much of it to wealthy people, according to the Securities and Exchange Commission. The company manages $82 million, according to the SEC.

The men declined to describe their relationships with one another, how they came to buy a $1 ticket together or what they would do with the money, except to say that Connecticut charities would benefit from the windfall.

Gladstone defended the move.

“I think it’s the first time somebody gave it careful thought and did a smart thing,” he said.
___
Associated Press writer Michael Melia contributed to this report.

     (Copyright 2011 by The Associated Press.  All Rights Reserved.)

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