Just eight months after winning a $338million Powerball jackpot, Pedro Quezada, 45, is being sued by his former live-in girlfriend for a portion of the fortune.
During a press conference last March, Quezada told reporters that he would buy his girlfriend, Ines Sanchez ‘whatever she wants’ with the money. But now his lawyer is arguing that Sanchez doesn’t deserve any of the winnings because the couple, who lived together for 10 years, was never legally married.
Sanchez’s attorneys disagree. They say Quezada purchased the winning lottery ticket with money earned by the couple. In 2006, Quezada and Sanchez jointly opened a bodega in Passaic, New Jersey, which was run by Quezada’s son Casiano. Sanchez and Quezada have a child together as well as children from previous relationships.
Last spring Quezada drew the winning ticket worth $338.3million. It’s the fourth-largest jackpot in Powerball history. After taxes Quezada received a check for $152million.
On Friday Superior Court Chancery Judge Margaret Mary McVeigh decided not to throw out the lawsuit, but she did deny Sanchez’s request to freeze Quezada’s lottery money until a trial and verdict determines if she is entitled to a portion of the winnings.
According to The Record, the judge explained that while she acknowledged the long term relationship Sanchez and Quezada shared as well as Sanchez’s contributions to the household, she legally she could not restrain Quezada’s assets.
‘That’s what money does to people: It changes positive relationships into bad ones,’ McVeigh said. ‘It doesn’t always enhance a relationship, or bring out people’s better qualities. Her [Sanchez’s] life has been up-ended by this winning ticket…But I am a judge. I don’t create the law. I have to follow it,’ she said.
The Record reported that the judge went on to explain that ‘something inwriting’ was needed.
‘Our Legislature has spoken. It specifically said, ‘For these types of arrangements, relationships, to be upheld there needs to be a writing. You cannot go forward with these types of relationships without something in writing.’
Sanchez has moved out of the recently purchased Clifton, New Jersey home the couple shared and has filed a domestic violence claim against Quezada, The Record reported. Quezada’s attorney declined to comment on that claim.
Sanchez’s attorney says that a large chunk of the lottery winnings is already gone, claiming $57 million has been sent to Quezada’s native Dominican Republic, $5 million was given away, $300,000 was spent on the home in Clifton, and $20 million can’t be located, the newspaper reported.
Powerball is played in 42 states, Washington, D.C., and the U.S. Virgin Islands. The chance of matching all five numbers and the Powerball number is about 1 in 175 million.