PA Man Ordered to Give half of $100,000 Lottery Prize to Girlfriend

On Friday, a ruling by the Pennsylvania Court panel declared that a man has to give half of his $100,000 winnings from a scratch-off lottery ticket to his ex-girlfriend. He had split from her a week after he had won the spectacular prize. In February 2018, during an attempt at a reconciliation, Ruthann Colachino and Jeffrey Jones were ecstatic to discover that the ‘Bingo Squared’ game had helped them win a prize of $100,000.

They had bought the winning ticket with the money that had come from a substantial tax refund worth $5,501. They had become eligible for this refund because they claimed their child as a dependent. Hence, Jones had agreed to share this refund with his girlfriend. The money was credited in Jones’ bank account on February 22nd, 2018, a little while after midnight. The couple immediately decided to go out to buy some lottery tickets from the local Turkey Hill Minit Market.

According to court documents, both Colachino and Jones frequented the convenience store regularly and they were well-known for buying lottery tickets along with each other. After making their purchase, they both returned home where Jones decided to scratch-off the tickets they had bought. That’s when he discovered that he had won $100,000.  The court documents said that both of them were understandably excited and discussed their intention to move out of public housing and to use the winnings to buy a house.

The winners claimed their prize the same day at the Pennsylvania Lottery office located in Middletown. After taxes, the pair received a sum of $72,930. Despite receiving the amazing windfall, things didn’t stay happy between the two for long. On March 3rd, 2018, only a week later, Jones ended his relationship with Colachino. They didn’t buy a home and Jones didn’t give his former girlfriend a single cent from his winnings. A complaint was promptly filed by Colachino on March 15th, where she accused Jones of violating their agreement of sharing the lottery prize equally.

After an in-depth and lengthy review of the case, which included testimonies from Colachino, Jones, along with the store clerk who had sold the winning lottery ticket and viewing surveillance footage of the store in question, the decision was made in favor of Colachino. On October 8th, 2019, a judge from Lackawanna County ruled that it was a joint venture and Colachino was entitled to receive half of the winnings. The decision was appealed by Jones and he argued that it wasn’t a joint venture because they didn’t pool in money for buying the lottery tickets.

He also said that they had made their purchases individually. His post-trial motions were denied by Judge Mary Jane Bowes on November 15th, 2019. She concluded that Colachino was entitled to receive her share of the winnings based on the video evidence and testimony and the fact that they had bought the tickets together. Bowes said that contrary to what Mr. Jones said, they did intend to use the winnings mutually.