A New York Man who claimed a $1 million US Powerball prize last year has had his bank accounts frozen by the courts because doubts have arisen as to the legitimacy of his claim.
When Michael Simmons claimed the Powerball prize he told New York Lottery officials he'd bought the ticket on a whim.
"I felt lucky that day so I decided to play Powerball," he said. "I was actually pretty calm when I realized I just won $1 million."
But Bronx woman, Mercedes Rosario, alleges he did not buy the ticket at all. She says the ticket belonged to her and was stolen by her former live-in boyfriend, Alexis Seda, who then gave it to Simmons.
Rosario filed a lawsuit last Thursday. When asked why Rosario's former lover would have given away the ticket, her lawyer Marc H. Wasserman replied: "That's the million-dollar question."
Wasserman also said his client had been living with too much "fear of both Seda and Simmons to ever come forward as the rightful owner of the ticket."
The couple apparently parted last month and this has given Rosario the confidence to seek retribution, Wasserman said.
Seda is employed by Simmons at Malmek Glass Contracting. Both men deny the allegations.
Seda claims he sent Rosario to a local bodega to purchase the ticket on his behalf and that he then gave the ticket to Simmons.
Simmons said: "Alexis Seda gave me the lottery ticket, stating that he wanted me to have the lottery ticket."
Neither man offered an explanation as to why anyone would wish to give away such a valuable prize.
At a hearing held last Thursday, Justice Julia I. Rodriguez temporarily froze Simmons' bank accounts, along with any of the lottery proceeds.
She has not ruled on Rosario's ownership claim.