Atlanta – An undocumented immigrant living in Georgia who claimed that his boss stole a winning lottery ticket from him was declared by a jury to be the legitimate winner of the $750,000 prize.
Jose Antonio "Tony" Cua-Toc, a 27-year-old Guatemalan, accused Erick Cervantes, for whom Cua-Toc was working temporarily when he bought the ticket that the employer then allegedly stole.
As Cua-Toc said in his testimony, he asked Cervantes to claim the $750,000 prize because he thought that he could not do so due to his irregular immigration status, but instead of handing over the money Cervantes fired him and accused him of threatening him.
Cua-Toc was jailed in November 2010 for making "terrorist threats" against Cervantes and his family.
Georgia law permits the sale of lottery tickets to foreigners over the age of 18, but it makes no reference to immigration status.
Cervantes originally said that the ticket belonged to him because he had given Cua-Toc the money to buy it, but the jury found last Thursday that the ticket belonged to the Guatemalan because he had made the purchase.
The total amount of the prize was reduced to $517,000 after taxes, but Cervantes and his wife have already spent about $223,000 of that money, according to documents presented in court.
Cua-Toc is currently serving a 44-day sentence for drunk driving and could be deported after he finishes that time behind bars.