A New Bedford man alleges in a lawsuit that two women cheated him out of his winnings from a $4 million scratch ticket, and now the disputed funds are in escrow while the high-stakes litigation plays out, records show.
The man, Joao Luis DaPonte, says in a civil complaint filed earlier this month in Bristol Superior Court that when he initially scratched the Lottery ticket he purchased at Cafe Sao Paulo on Bolton Street in New Bedford on Nov. 23, he believed he had won $4,000 since the ticket said “$4MIL” below the number 26.
DaPonte does not read or speak English, his suit says, and “mil” translates to 1,000 in Portuguese.
He later asked New Bedford resident Maria Oliveira, one of the named defendants, to cash the ticket for him, since he knew she had cashed out scratch tickets for other people in the past and kept a percentage of the winnings for herself, according to the suit.
She obliged and returned $3,800 to DaPonte,, court papers allege. DaPonte later learned after speaking with a friend that Oliveira and another named defendant, New Bedford resident Susana Gaspar, had schemed to grab the $4 million jackpot for themselves, according to the complaint.
Here’s how they allegedly plotted to steal from DaPonte:
“As part of their scheme, the defendant Oliveira provided the ticket to defendant Gaspar so she could sign the ticket and present it to the Lottery Commission for payment,” the suit says.
Gaspar chose the lump sum cash option on the ticket, which came to $2.6 million before taxes, according to the complaint. Now the remaining $1.6 million lies in escrow while the suit is pending, records show.
A lawyer for Gaspar and Oliveira didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment Wednesday.
But in an affidavit filed with the court, Oliveira said she has “never cashed in lottery tickets for anyone” and never received a lottery ticket from DaPonte. And, she said, while DaPonte claims she gave him $3,800, she “never gave Mr. DaPonte any money at any time in my life.”
Gaspar couldn’t immediately be reached for comment, and a State Lottery spokesman declined to comment. .
DaPonte’s lawyer declined to comment.
“The defendants’ acts ... constitute knowledgeable assistance contributing to the common tortious plan of depriving the plaintiff of his lottery winnings,” DaPonte’s complaint says.