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Woman who filed for divorce and hid lottery winnings from husband forced to handover jackpot

Woman who filed for divorce and hid lottery winnings from husband forced to handover jackpot

Denise Rossi won big on the California lottery, but then had to give it all away to her ex-husband because she didn't tell him

A woman was forced to hand over a big lottery jackpot to her ex-husband after scooping the prize and keeping it a secret from him.

Yikes, that’s got to be a seriously deep burn.

Not only do you go from the joy of winning a massive cash prize to the low of losing it, but - on top of that - you have to lose it to your ex-husband.

Is there any greater tale of woe?

Probably, to be fair.

Anyway, as far as the judge is concerned, this is something that Denise Rossi brought upon herself.

Denise Rossi.

Rossi and a number of work friends went in on a California lottery syndicate, and their numbers came in just 11 days before Rossi’s divorce papers were filed back in 1996.

She’d won a $1.3 million jackpot - £1.02 million in today’s money – but decided that she wouldn’t tell her husband Thomas about it.

It was only years later that he found out, when he got a letter from a company that pays out a lump sum to lottery winners.

It was addressed to Denise and said that the company had ‘helped hundreds of lottery winners like you around the country receive a lump-sum payment for the present value of their future annual lottery payments’.

The court heard that Denise got the actual cheque sent to her mum’s house, withholding the information from her husband and – crucially – the divorce court.

Denise said that she’d ‘wanted to get out of [their] relationship for years’, but Thomas argued that he’d been ‘blindsided’ and was left ‘confused’ by what happened.

He told PEOPLE: “She wanted me to move out of the house very fast. It wasn’t like her to act this way.”

He secured an injuction and took Denise to court, where it was ruled that she’d violated laws around the disclosure of assets and funds before a divorce, acting in fraud or malice.

The then-49-year-old was told to pay her ex 20 annual instalments of $66,800, totally up to the entire amount of her win.

Denise’s lawyer Connolly Oyler said that she’d have had a chance of keeping the windfall if she’d only have told them about it.

All of the money ended up getting paid to her husband.

“I could have argued successfully that it was her separate property,” he said.

“Or we could have argued, and we would have reached some adjustment.

“But the judge got mad and gave it all to him.”

Her lawyer did admit that the punishment against his client was ‘very punitive’.

Still, there’s a lesson in there somewhere.

You’d have to imagine that Denise Rossi just doesn’t like thinking about it, though.

Featured Image Credit: Fox/Karol Serewis/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images

Topics: US News, Money, Weird