Business and Corporate

Illegal immigrant allowed to cash in $750,000 winning lottery ticket

winning lottery ticket

Sometimes all you need is a little luck. Every once in a while, in the on-going prosecution of illegal immigration in the United States, an undocumented person earns a small victory.

In Houston County, Georgia, an illegal immigrant from Guatemala will be able to collect $750,000 he won from a lottery ticket he bought in 2010.

This was not: the winner, Tony Cua-Toc, had to persuade a Houston County jury that he was the rightful owner of the Jingle Jumbo Bucks lottery ticket.

Cua-Toc, who entered the country in 2000, claimed that the business he worked for claimed the ticket for him and ended up keeping the money. The business owner claimed the money was his because he gave Cua-Toc $20 to buy the ticket. But the Houston County jury disagreed and decided the money rightfully belonged to Cua-Toc, who is also entitled to over $200,000 in attorneys fees for the case. The issue of punitive damages – damanges that punish the losing party – are yet to be awarded.

My first thought as an Atlanta immigration lawyer was simply that the State of Georgia was denying Cua-Toc the right to collect the money simply because he was illegal. Not so. Apparently, the documented status of Cua-Toc was never really an issue. The issue before the jury was quite simpler than that: If you give someone $20 and they buy a winning lottery ticket, who has a right to the money? The person who fronted the money or the person who bought the ticket? In this case, clearly the latter.

In response to this law, many Atlanta immigration attorneys filed a petition in federal court to strike down the law or, at the least, push back the full enactment of the law until a ruling can be issued by the United States Supreme Court. These Atlanta immigration lawyers were successful in that a federal judge struck down the most controversial sections of HB-87 because it pre-empted federal law on the same subject. [6]