JUDGE refuses to freeze Powerball winner's share as requested by co-workers who sued

Thursday, August 30th 2001, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

PORTLAND, Maine (AP) _ Co-workers of one of the winners of the $294.8 million Powerball jackpot have filed a lawsuit seeking to claim a share of the winnings, saying the ticket was part of an office pool.

In the suit, four people who worked with lottery winner Pat Wales at Lincoln Financial Group in Portland said 19 members of the pool kicked in $10 apiece to share 190 Powerball tickets.

The lawsuit, filed Wednesday, had asked that at least $8.6 million of the winnings be frozen. But Justice Nancy Mills rejected that request. Based on an affidavit filed by one of the co-workers, Mills wrote that she did not believe the workers can produce enough evidence to win their suit.

Altogether, four winning tickets to the jackpot were sold around the country before Saturday's drawing in the multistate lottery. One of those tickets was turned by Pat Wales and her husband, Erwin, of Buxton, Maine.

Each winning ticket is worth $73.7 million, or one-quarter of the third-biggest jackpot in U.S. lottery history.

The Waleses' lawyer, Terrence Garmey, insisted the winning ticket belongs to the couple, offering as proof sales records from the store in New Hampshire where the ticket was bought.

He said Pat Wales bought 190 numbers for her office pool, then a few minutes later bought 20 for herself and her husband. The winning ticket, Garmey said, was among those 20.

Garmey said Pat Wales was ``devastated'' when told her co-workers might sue. ``She put her head on the table and sobbed,'' he said.