A Bronx woman was left homeless for three years after a million dollar winning New York State Lottery ticket was wrongfully taken from her.
Fifty-seven-year-old Mercedes Rosario has spent most of her nights living on the street near Willis Avenue and East 143rd Street since she correctly picked five Powerball winning numbers on that fateful February 8 in 2013.
Due to physical disabilities, Rosario is unable to work.
After fighting defendants Alexis Seda and Michael Simmions in court since 2014, Rosario’s nightmare ended when her luck changed.
When Rosario purchased the winning ticket from Jay and Jay Bodega at 1701 Unionport Road, she also picked up some Powerball tickets for Seda, whom she lived with not too far from the bodega, which were all losers.
Rosario put the winning ticket in a dresser draw before taking a nap and discovered it missing when she went to retrieve it that evening.
According to court testimony Seda had given the ticket to Michael Simmons, his boss at Malmek Glass Contracting in Staten Island and the two intended on splitting the ticket’s winnings. “We made a deal,” Seda claimed during his testimony.
Simmons cashed the ticket, taking the lump sum worth $623,040 to split with Seda. The court report indicates that the duo had a falling out resulting in Simmons refusing to divvy the winnings with Seda.
Although there was conflicting reasons as to why Simmons was asked to cash the ticket, there was testimony that Rosario and Seda were receiving government benefits which they might have to pay back.
After both Simmons and Seda produced testimony that the court had deemed not credible, it was determined that Simmons fraudulently filled out paperwork for the Lottery Commission saying he had purchased the ticket, despite Seda earlier claim that he had given Simmons the ticket as a gift.
Judge Barry Salman ruled in favor of Rosario, stating, “the defendants colluded to defraud the plaintiff (Rosario) as to the proceeds of the lottery ticket at issue” in addition to the winnings at hand.
“Now we have to follow the money,” said Marc Wasserman, Rosario’s attorney. “The assets have been frozen from Simmons, but we need to find where all of the money is specifically,” he added.
After three years of literal and metaphoric trial, Rosario is simply content that it’s all over and that she soon can get her life in order.
“I’m very glad now, I can finally seek housing, I am going to use this money to better myself and my life” said Rosario. “I’m also putting the money towards clothes and to get my knees and my shoulders replaced,” she added.
Wasserman learned of Rosario’s plight through her son, who he knew. After hearing what happened to her he was compelled to take her case.
Sure enough, when Rosario was asked if she would keep playing the lottery, she exclaimed “of course!”