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Powerball winner's identity to remain mystery

By KIMBERLY HOUGHTON
Union Leader Correspondent

March 13. 2018 10:12AM



NASHUA — The world may never know the identity of New Hampshire’s $560 million Powerball winner, according to a court ruling issued Monday in favor of the woman’s request to keep her identity a secret.

However, Judge Charles Temple of Hillsborough County Superior Court said the woman’s hometown must be disclosed, and on Monday her attorneys confirmed that she resides in Merrimack.

“We won. It’s great,” said Attorney William Shaheen of Shaheen & Gordon, P.A., the law firm representing the anonymous winner. “The Lottery Commission has a right to say the winner came from Merrimack, but everything else she is entitled to a right to privacy. The commission is enjoined from ever releasing her name or address permanently. Period.”

Shaheen said his client was jumping up and down when she was notified of the court’s ruling on Monday.

“She will be able to live her life normally,” he added.

The court ruled that disclosure of the winner’s name would constitute an invasion of privacy under RSA 91-A.

“This personal information is exempt from disclosure under the Right-to-Know law,” ruled Temple.

Temple said the court has no doubt that if her identity was revealed, she would be subject to harassment, solicitation and other unwanted communication; the woman already received her winnings last week.

“Although the commission dismissed this harassment as trivial and/or speculative, for the court to do so would require it to ignore the significant media attention this case has received, the numerous documents of bad experiences of other lottery winners as well as the bevy of unsolicited emails, phone calls and in-person visits already directed at Ms. Doe through her attorneys,” states Temple’s ruling, adding the winner’s privacy interest in the nondisclosure of her name outweighs the public’s interest in the disclosure of her name.

Still, Temple ruled that the winner has no privacy interest in her hometown, ordering that the woman’s hometown must be disclosed pursuant to a Right-to-Know request.

“Given that any female person in Ms. Doe’s hometown could potentially be the winner, it is highly unlikely that Ms. Doe could be identified as the winner based solely on the disclosure of that limited piece of information,” he stated.

Recently, Assistant Attorney General John Conforti said there is a substantial public interest in disclosure of the woman’s identity, specifically the winning ticket that she signed.

“The lottery thrives on transparency,” Conforti argued last month. He said taxpayers need to know that the Lottery Commission is running the games in an appropriate manner with integrity and fairness.

Temple ruled that there is no evidence or information suggesting that the Lottery Commission has engaged in any corrupt activity. Furthermore, he said that given the structure of the Powerball lottery game, the chance of any corruption or error attributable to the commission is extremely low. He stressed that while the commission administers the Powerball lottery in New Hampshire, it is actually run by the Multi-State Lottery Association.

“While we were expecting a different outcome and believed the State had a strong argument, we respect the court’s decision,” Lottery Commission Executive Director Charlie McIntyre said in a statement on Monday. “That said, we will consult with the Attorney General’s office to determine appropriate next steps regarding the case.”

The court allowed the mystery winner to claim her prize through the Good Karma Family 2018 Nominee Trust facilitated through the law firm with Shaheen serving as trustee while awaiting the ruling. Last week, the trust made donations totaling nearly $250,000 to Girls Inc. and three chapters of End 68 Hours of Hunger.

khoughton@newstote.com


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