The California Lottery Commission has declined to release surveillance footage of Edwin Castro buying the $2 billion Powerball ticket as the jackpot fight heats up.
The commission’s refusal comes because plaintiff Jose Rivera, who filed a lawsuit in February alleging he was the rightful purchaser of the big-money ticket, and his legal team argued against it Court so they can watch the video of the purchase at Joe’s Service Center in Altadena, California.
“By continuing to withhold the video, the California State Lottery Commission is preventing the plaintiff from clarifying who actually purchased the lottery ticket,” Rivera’s attorney Brian Kramer wrote in a letter to Lisa L. Freund, the assistant attorney general for California the video represents commission.
The commission reportedly has CCTV footage of Castro buying the lucky ticket himself at the Altadena gas station, but has declined to provide evidence to the media.
The US Sun asked the California Lottery to look at the surveillance footage, but the request was denied.
In Rivera’s lawsuit, he claimed the ticket was stolen by a man named Reggie the same day it was purchased.
Rivera claimed that he demanded that Reggie, who has since been identified as Urachi F. Romero, return the ticket, but Romero refused, saying he had lost it.
Romero reportedly told Rivera that if he eventually found it, the two could split the profit.
Romero is listed as a co-defendant in court documents, as are the California Lottery Commission and Powerball winner Castro.
Castro’s attorney David De Paoli argued that Rivera lied when he served the Powerball winner with the court filings at his Hollywood Hills home and that he instead served his father at her family’s Altadena home.
In an affidavit, Edwin Castro Sr. said that on April 25, “a gentleman came up to me and told me I was being served. I told trial counsel that he was serving the wrong ‘Edwin Castro,’ but he showed little concern.”
The filing also argued that Rivera failed to connect Castro and the co-defendant, saying, “There are no facts as to how Edwin Castro obtained possession of ‘Reggie”s Powerball ticket.”
The California Lottery Commission stood by Castro and said it remained confident that he was the legitimate winner of the big-money ticket.
Assistant Attorney General Freund has been back and forth with Rivera’s attorney to dismiss the California Lottery Commission from the lawsuit.
A letter to his attorneys sets out several reasons why Freund believes the lottery shouldn’t be part of the lawsuit, even though Rivera has named him as a co-defendant.
Freund also points out that the state “can only be held liable within the framework of the statutory provisions; public bodies have no liability under common law.”
Surprisingly, she also explains a section of the government code that states: “‘No prize shall be paid for tickets not obtained from the lottery…'” As the purported purchaser of a lottery ticket, Mr. Rivera “has no enforceable right against the others participants, as long as no winning ticket is available.”
“Eligibility for a share of the prize arises solely from possession of a prize ticket, not from the mere purchase of a ticket.”
The documents further state: “Players are solely responsible for protecting their tickets from theft, loss, damage or destruction. The Lottery does not investigate general criminal activity related to the theft of lottery tickets by members of the public.”
“Such crimes should be reported to the appropriate law enforcement agencies.
“The person in possession of an unsigned lottery ticket or a ticket bearing their signature is the alleged owner/winner.”
The letter attached to the file further states that a price from the California The lottery may only be paid out once, along with attached bank statements showing that the money was deposited into Castro’s account.
A case management conference and proof of service hearing is now scheduled for July 24 at the courthouse in Alhambra, California.
INVESTIGATION INTO THE ALLEGED TICKET THEFT
The US Sun can confirm that Pasadena police are investigating the alleged theft of Castro’s valuable $2 billion ticket.
Rivera visited several police stations, including the Altadena Sheriff’s Office and the Pasadena Police Department, before returning with his attorneys, The US Sun can confirm.
Lisa Derderian, the public affairs officer for the city of Pasadena, said Rivera reported the alleged theft to the Pasadena police department on Feb. 15, but had no proof of purchase of the ticket, and ultimately no theft report was completed.
When asked by The US Sun, the Pasadena Police Department confirmed the case was “active” and that Police Corporal David Duran was overseeing the investigation.
Although the officer provided the report number, he insisted it was not publicly available while the investigation into the situation continued.
Officers are believed to be trying to determine where the alleged crime took place, as Rivera appears to be struggling to figure out what happened to his speeding ticket.
Rivera’s attorney Estela Richeda also confirmed this to The US Sun on Wednesday police are investigating and Corporal Duran will be sending out the full report shortly.
She said they spent two hours at the Pasadena police station waiting to speak to officers and demanding that the alleged theft be investigated.
Richeda said: “We went there personally. We said we wanted to open a case and they told us they would.”
“We were there for about two hours and met with two officers and insisted [they investigate].
“We said the lottery is telling us to do it [look into it].
“Before, he had been there alone and apparently they had closed the case.”
Romero, who has not hired a legal representative, said recently The New York Post that he believes the ticket actually belonged to Rivera but has no information as to what happened to it and has not seen any of the winnings.
He said: “I could be dirty or I could be hot, but actually Jose Rivera showed me this ticket before he knew it was the winning ticket. But I don’t know how he lost that ticket.”
Joe Chahayed, the owner of Joe’s Service Center, spoke exclusively to The US Sun after also making $1 million before taxes from the sale of the winning ticket.
The humble businessman, who decided to return to work at 6 a.m. the next day and give his winnings to his family, claimed that Castro actually bought the ticket and is a regular at his shop.
He said: “I knew the guy before he won, he came every morning to buy coffee, donuts and tickets … then he disappeared.”
“I thought he was mad at me or something had happened, but then someone told me he had won the money.”
Although the draw was held in November, Castro was not crowned the winner until February and declined to appear at a press conference at Joe’s Service Center.
At the time, Castro announced that he was “shocked and thrilled” and had decided to take the jackpot in a lump sum payment of $997.6 million after tax.
In a statement, he said, “As much as I am shocked and thrilled to have won the Powerball drawing, the real winner is the California public school system,” which benefited after the huge $156.3 million win.
It’s not known why it took three months to announce the Powerball winner, and the California Lottery Commission has yet to comment on the litigation.