A cautionary tale: SC woman lost $83 million to NY man known as the ‘lottery lawyer’

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In the week of one of the biggest lottery draws in history, a New York man calling himself the “lottery lawyer” was convicted of several charges related to lottery winner defrauding, including a South Carolina woman who collected $877 million.

A jury in Brooklyn, New York, unanimously convicted Jason Kurland Tuesday on five counts of wire fraud, honest services fraud and money laundering, according to court documents. The government estimated that Kurland suffered losses of more than $100 million for three lottery winners.

Court documents say the South Carolina woman lost $83 million to Kurland.

The government alleged that the woman gave Kurland money to invest for her and gave him access to her bank account, from which he immediately took millions. She has not been identified, but her winning ticket was purchased in Simpsonville, South Carolina.

It took the woman more than 100 days to claim her prize on October 23, 2018. She said she was looking into who could best help her manage the money. Only after finding Kurland did she come forward to claim the prize, The State reported at the time.

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Kurland said in a press release at the time that the woman planned to use some of the money for “philanthropic efforts” in South Carolina and specifically in Simpsonville. She wanted to donate to charities such as Ronald McDonald House or Charities of Columbia; One SC Fund – for Hurricane Florence Help; In the middle, Colombia; the arts center of the town of Simpsonville; and American Red Cross Alabama Region — Tornado Relief Fund, according to the press release.

During the opening day of testimony at the trial on July 13, New York carpenter Nandlall Mangal, who won a $245 million Powerball jackpot in 2018, said: “We had a large sum of money. We didn’t know what was coming. He made us feel very comfortable, we were very confident he could do this,” the New York Daily News reported.

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Kurland pleaded not guilty, saying he was misled by others who were also charged in the settlement. Two of them, Francis “Frank” Smookler and Frangesco “Frank” Russo, testified against Kurland. Both previously pleaded guilty to bank fraud, money laundering and extortion and are awaiting sentencing.

Christopher Chierchio, who pleaded guilty to fraud and money laundering, was also charged in the case and is awaiting sentencing.

Kurland’s attorney Tim Kasulis told the jury, “There are real criminals in this case, and you will meet some of them in this courtroom. But Jason is not one of them,” the Daily News reported.

Kurland was a partner at the law firm Rivkin Radler, based in Long Island, New York, until he was arrested.

The government estimates that Kurland’s customers have collectively won $3 billion.

According to a July 1 report by Bloomberg, “Prosecutors would allege that Kurland, Smookler and Russo used these companies’ accounts as a ‘slush fund’ for personal expenses such as a Range Rover and a shopping trip at Dick’s Sporting Goods”.

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After Kurland’s conviction, US attorney Damian Williams said in a statement that Kurland incited clients to invest millions in companies he secretly owned and took illegal bribes based on his clients’ investments without their knowledge.

“Eventually, the defendant and his co-conspirators filled their own pockets while his clients suffered huge losses from their crimes,” Williams said.

Kurland’s attorneys, Telemachus Kasulis and Dennis Dillon of Morvillo Abramowitz Grand Iason & Anello, did not respond to requests for comment.

Co-conspirator Chierchio’s attorney told Bloomberg reporter Simon van Zuylen-Wood: “I’ve been at this for 40 years or more and I’ve never seen a man more terrified in the water with the evidence against him than Jason Courland. .”

Federal prosecutors had tapes of the co-conspirators talking about their plan, court records said.