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Powerball winner can claim $560M prize through trust; no ruling yet on remaining anonymous

Union Leader Correspondent

February 16. 2018 3:13PM
Judge Charles Temple listens during a hearing in the Jane Doe v. NH Lottery Commission hearing at Hillsborough Superior Court in Nashua on Tuesday. On Friday, Temple ruled the New Hampshire woman who says she has a Powerball ticket that won a $559.7 million jackpot can claim the prize through a trust but has not ruled on her request to remain anonymous. (AP Photo/Charles Krupa, pool)

NASHUA — The mystery Powerball winner seeking to keep her identity private has been granted court approval to receive her $560 million prize through a designated trust, but the judge has not yet ruled on whether her name will be disclosed.

On Friday, Judge Charles Temple ruled that the woman, known in court documents as Jane Doe, may designate a trust to claim the Powerball prize and receive payment of the winnings even though she signed her name to the back of the winning ticket purchased last month in Merrimack.

As part of the claim process, the trustee of the designated trust, known as the Good Karma Family Trust of 2018, will provide the winner’s photo identification and Social Security number to the New Hampshire Lottery Commission so that it can search public records to determine if she owes any unpaid child support, which is required by state law.

“The ticket shall then be placed in a secure location by the commission and shall not be disclosed to the public pending a final judgment on whether the ticket is subject to disclosure pursuant to the Right-to-Know Law,” Temple said in his ruling.

All documents submitted to the commission that identify the winner may not be released or disclosed in response to any Right-to-Know requests, including one submitted by the New Hampshire Union Leader, until a final ruling is made on Doe’s civil lawsuit against the commission seeking to keep her identity secret.

However, the court ruled that documents submitted to the commission by her attorneys prior to redemption of the winning ticket that do not contain personal information are exempt from disclosure until five business days after the ticket is redeemed.

Once the ticket is verified as a winning ticket, the prize money will be transferred as soon as possible to an account in the name of the trust, ruled Temple. Temple did not state when he anticipates making a ruling on the winner’s request to remain anonymous.

Meanwhile, the lottery commission is seeking to dismiss the lawsuit, claiming the ticket is a public document and must be disclosed.

Attorneys for both sides argued the merits of the case this week at Hillsborough County Superior Court.

“We have a substantial public interest in disclosure of those public documents,” said Assistant Attorney General John Conforti, adding Doe is asking for a substantial extension of privacy protection under the state’s Right-to-Know law.

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

Attorney Steven Gordon maintains that if his client’s name is revealed, she could be subject to harassment, annoyance and possibly threats or violence.

He said his client followed the commission’s instructions and signed her name and hometown on the ticket, essentially losing her right to anonymity, which could have been avoided if she had first assigned it to a trust.

“She doesn’t want to be a celebrity,” said William Shaheen of Shaheen and Gordon law firm, adding the winner is already highly stressed and is preparing to have security guards in place should her name be revealed.

Courts General News Nashua

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