Windsor pizza worker’s costume for part of $1m lotto win is ‘desperate afterthought’: defense statement

Sixteen members of a Windsor, Ont., group that won $1 million in the lottery want a judge to throw out claims by a former colleague that he is entitled to part of the pot.

The group won the Maxmillion prize on an Ontario Lottery and Gaming Corporation (OLG) Lotto Max ticket in a draw last June. Each member is listed in the civil suit launched by Philip Tsotsos, which is seeking $70,000 and costs, including interest, and is fighting to be declared the 17th member on the winning ticket.

Tsotsos, now a pizza delivery driver, worked with an auto parts delivery company where the group lottery pool was organized.

In a defense statement released Thursday, the group says that because Tsotsos did not pay or arrange to pay, it did not participate in that particular sweepstakes and should not receive any part of the winnings.

Their attorney, David Robins, said they followed a strict “pay-to-play rule”.

The “claim for part of the lottery prize is just a desperate afterthought by a regretful, troubled and jealous person,” the defense statement read.

A man claims that the pool works on the credit system

Tsotsos previously told CBC News that he doesn’t always pay for tickets upfront, but the pool operates on a credit system and in the past he owed up to $100 and still paid it. He said that in the six years he’s competed in the pool, he’s never been cut.

Tsotsos is now a pizza delivery boy, but used to work at an auto parts company in Windsor where the group lottery was held. (Jacob Barker/CBC)

When Tsotsos spoke to CBC News in late April, he said he was “close friends” with the band members and showed text exchanges he says prove he agreed to stay in the band. group, although he did not pay.

According to the defense brief, the last exchange of text messages between Tsotsos and a member of the group before the winning draw took place on June 14, and there were three draws that took place after this date, including the winning draw, without the help of Tsotsos. participation.

This is the story of an injustice. It is our response to this idea that it is jealousy. It’s not jealousy. We’re trying to right a mistake and hopefully bring some healing here.– Joe De Luca, attorney for Philip Tsotsos

The group denies all allegations made by Tsotsos in the statement, including that they were “close” or “good” friends.

“I think they’re very disappointed that someone claiming to be their friend has taken legal action and gone to the media to tell a story that somehow suggests they haven’t treated him fairly, without recounting the full circumstances of his situation, and that he had been kept incommunicado for weeks before the draw and for months after the draw,” Robins told CBC News in an interview.

In response to that, Tsotsos’ attorney Joe De Luca told CBC News on Friday that it was “misleading.”

The defense statement claims that Tsotsos has participated “from time to time” in the group’s lottery pool since it started in 2015 at the auto parts delivery store.

It says Tsotsos went through “serious personal and financial problems” and failed to repay people who lent him money.

The defense statement says Tsotsos owed $40 from previous draws to group pool organizer Steven Todesco, but he never paid them. He claims the last draw he actually paid was in May 2021.

Attorney Joe De Luca, who represents Tsotsos, says the personal and financial claims made against his client in the defense statement have been difficult for him to manage. (Jennifer La Grassa/CBC)

As for the June 22, 2021 draw, the group says, Tsotsos was not in the pool “because he didn’t ask to be included, he didn’t pay any money to play “. [and] he was still indebted to Todesco for the money he had lent the claimant to play in four previous draws.”

He also says that before the big win, in a text message to a band member, Tsotsos hinted that he was going through some personal issues.

After that, the group claims, no one heard from Tsotsos for months.

De Luca commented on the defense statement citing Tsotsos’ personal issues, saying it was painful for his client.

“I know it was a nightmare for Phil. And looking back to me, it’s really mind-blowing because Phil predicted all of this. He said, ‘They’re going for the jugular,'” De Luca said.

“It’s the story of an injustice. It’s our response to this idea that it’s jealousy. It’s not jealousy. We’re trying to right a wrong and hopefully make it right. ‘bring healing here.’

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