SC Mega Millions winner’s testimony shows she lost $83 million to New York lawyer

The morning after she became a millionaire, a South Carolina woman drove past KC Mart No. 47 in Simpsonville, where she bought a lottery ticket. I really can’t beat it.

that is Biggest Mega Millions Jackpot Winning one ticket worth more than $1.5 billion, she watched the numbers on TV.

“If nobody was there, you could say, ‘Okay, this is a disaster, we made a mistake,’ and drive home and all would be well. There was.

This was part of her testimony at a trial earlier this year when her attorney, self-proclaimed “lottery attorney” Jason Kurland, was indicted for accepting money from some of his clients. I was. Over $80 million for her.

The South Carolina woman has not been identified and is allowed to testify using the pseudonym Beth Smith.

Her testimony offers a glimpse into her overnight transformation, from an underwriter with only a 401K and checking account to a wealthy retiree with a net worth of $600 million after taxes. .

Her story also provides a cautionary tale for those who have unexpectedly made a lot of money, people they trust professionals to do their job without many oversights.

The following story is taken from Beth Smith’s testimony against Kurland.

mixed with joy and anxiety

When she saw the lottery numbers match all six numbers in the October 23, 2018 draw, she felt mixed emotions. She is “surprise, disbelief, delight, anxiety.”

She thought it was a big blessing, but it was also a big worry. She didn’t want to be in the public eye. In her late fifties, she was living a comfortable life with her lawyer husband. They had been married for 36 years and had children. She didn’t want wealth to change anything.

Even at the convenience store the next morning, for some reason I felt like people were watching me. I knew that who was she She was concerned for her safety and that of her family.

Anonymity was very important.

They kept the ticket in a safety deposit box until they decided what to do with it.

“We looked at lawyers. We looked at financial advisors. We looked at accountants. You know, we looked at investment firms. Things like that,” she said. rice field.

They knew who to bring in for other advice, so they decided on a lawyer. In addition, lawyers would be obliged to protect their confidentiality.

They saw Carland, a New York lawyer, talking on television about winning the lottery. He has previously represented other big lottery winners, including his $336.4 million in Rhode Island and his $254.2 million in Connecticut.

In his late 40s, he lived on Long Island with his wife and soccer-playing children, and worked at the law firm Rivkin Radler.

She thought the lottery lawyer’s name was awkward, but she saw him on the news.

“He was on the morning show and stuff and he certainly seemed to know about the lottery. He specialized in lottery winners. But he seemed very capable,” Smith said.

Her husband called Kurland from a burner phone in December 2018. They didn’t want him to know their names. They met in Las Vegas soon after.

They needed Kurland to collect prizes, distribute money to charities, and most importantly keep their names out of the news. His involvement in has grown well beyond that.

Receipt of prizes

On March 4, 2019, five months after winning the case, Mr. and Mrs. Smith (the husband is called Steve in court records) met Kurland in Columbia (the exact location was not specified in court). ). A security guard from the South Carolina Lottery Commission picked them up, and from the State Capitol he drove two blocks away to the main South Carolina lottery office.

They parked their car in an underground garage with security cameras turned off. Windows are covered. It was Sunday. Several lottery officials attended the meeting.

The Smiths submitted tickets and earned $878 million before taxes. Kurland was paid a flat fee of $200,000.

A few days later, Kurland informed the media. The woman is from South Carolina and visited Greenville, where she chose “a scenic drive during recess,” according to the Greenville News.

On a whim, she stopped by KC Mart.

She had decided to donate to the Simpsonville City Arts Center, Ronald McDonald Columbia Charity, One SC Fund – Hurricane Florence Relief, Central Columbia, American Red Cross Alabama Area – Tornado Relief Fund.

Kurland did not disclose how much each was paid.

Kurland opened an account with New York City-based Bank Leumi USA and distributed it to four other major American banks. An in-house money manager handles the investment.

“We really wanted this to be invested in a very conservative way, because my husband and I knew that this — this blessing — was going to be offered to my family and generations.” And we believed we would have it for generations to come.

The account was set up in Kurland’s name to protect anonymity.

“He had access to it. We didn’t. He set it up as if it was his account,” she said.

They never got a statement or balance information.

All information provided by Carland.

Mr. and Mrs. Smith agreed to pay $50,000 a month for his services going forward.

These services included arranging for Smith’s husband to go to the Masters and her sisters and brother-in-law to go to the Kentucky Derby. At one point, Kurland sent Steve Smith an autographed photo of Daniel Ruediger.

trade in

Two days after claiming the money, Kurland brought two investments to Smiths: JBMML and Cheddar Capital. Both are small business loans. Mr. and Mrs. Smith will invest $20 million in JBMML and her $10 million in Cheddar at his 9% interest rate.

Interest will go to a family fund called the Cedar Ridge Partnership, which will be distributed to 10 family members as $12,500 monthly income.

The following month, Kurland offered a deal that he and other lottery winners said had been a success — a diamond merchant paying $2 million for a $12.6 million investment in half a year.

And in May, Kurland proposed investing in Thoroughbred racehorses. For $1 million he can get three horses, feed them and train them for a year.

In March 2020, at Kurland’s proposal, they invested $19.5 million in a company that hoped to provide PPE to the state of California.

The Smith family rocked together. They bought a new home in South Carolina, another home in another state, and a home for a family outside the United States. Tens of millions of real estate transactions.

Then cracks started to appear.

“The payments[to the family]were very irregular. Sometimes the company sent them directly to my family members, Cheddar Capital and JBMML. I was very concerned, terribly worried.”

She learns that diamond merchant Greg Altieri is being investigated after being contacted by the FBI. Kurland put her at ease. All was well. When he was arrested, the government described the merchant’s business as a Ponzi scheme.

Kurland himself and three other people involved in the deal, including Smiths and two other lottery winners, were then arrested.

That was August 2020.

scrambling is on

Smith said he didn’t know how to access his money at first.

“I didn’t even know who the wealth investor was. It was a wealth advisor,” she said. “She’s not just calling 800 and talking to someone.”

It was a long and tedious process, and she worried that even if Kurland got out of prison, he would still have complete control over her money.

“I wanted it to stop,” she said.

She had to get a certified copy of the lottery ticket. The commissioner drove it to her house.

“We were very grateful,” she said.

Each bank had its own requirements to prove that the money belonged to her.

Smith said there was a lot of information Kurland never shared, including earning a 1% discoverer fee on some investments and being interested in JBMML and cheddar. He bought his two horses instead of his three. And worst of all, they took her $19.5 million from her account without permission.

Asked in court why Kurland took the money, she said, “The only thing I can think of is theft.”

She said she didn’t know where the money went.

bloomberg news, published story Before Kurland’s trial, we reveal the twists and turns of Kurland’s life, from being a Hofstra Law School graduate working on a small real estate deal to getting involved with those on the margins of organized crime.

“Kurland and his associates were accused of siphoning lottery winnings for boats, luxury cars, country club memberships, and other cliche payments. In particular, it threatened to kill the family of a man who turned out to be a federal informant,” the magazine said.

According to the magazine, prosecutors found that Kurland, (Frank) Smoochler, and (Frank) Russo used lottery winnings as a “slush fund” for personal expenses such as shopping at Range Rover and Dick’s sporting goods stores. I was going to claim that

In July, a Brooklyn, New York jury unanimously found Kurland guilty of five counts of wire fraud, honest service wire fraud, and money laundering, according to court documents.

The government estimates that Kurland lost more than $100 million to three lottery winners.

Kurland pleaded not guilty and said he was deceived by others accused of the scheme. Two of them, Francis “Frank” Smookler and his Frangesco “Frank” Russo, have previously pleaded guilty to wire fraud, money laundering and extortion charges and testified against his Kurland, who is awaiting sentencing. did.

Christopher Kierchio, who Bloomberg described as “owning a Staten Island plumbing business and identified in New York tabloids as a soldier in the Genovese Crime Family,” was also charged in the case. He has pleaded guilty to fraud and money laundering and is awaiting sentencing.

Court records show that federal prosecutors had tapes of the co-conspirators talking about their plans.

Diamond merchant Altieri pleaded guilty to wire transfers in 2020.

Meanwhile, Beth and Steve Smith wonder why.

“Do you think these things would have happened if you had asked better questions in this case?” the prosecutor asked Beth Smith.

“Oh, I don’t believe that at all. I think they happened, no matter how many questions I asked.”