Drug Dealer Ordered to Return Lottery Payoff
Mon Jun 9, 9:35 AM ET
HOUSTON (Reuters) - A Texas man who won $5.5 million in the state lottery has been ordered to give it up because he bought the winning ticket with money made selling cocaine, federal officials said Friday.
Lawyers for Jose Luis Betancourt argued that the ticket was purchased with cash from selling old clothes, but a jury in federal court in Brownsville, Texas, disagreed and ruled on Wednesday he had to forfeit the cash, said Assistant U.S. Attorney Nancy Herrera.
Betancourt, 52, was arrested on Jan. 17, just three days after collecting the $5.5 million, for selling 36 grams of cocaine to an undercover agent.
Prosecutors said he had been selling cocaine for at least two years before winning the lottery.
He was found guilty of drug dealing last week and is behind bars awaiting sentencing that could put him in prison for life.
Texas Lottery spokeswoman Kristina Tirloni said the forfeited money would go to the federal government, not the state.