Imagine winning a huge amount of money on the lottery only to hide it from your partner or even worse, abscond and leave them in the dark. These next two stories are of when couples keep lottery wins secret and they’re salutary lessons to always be honest with your significant other if you win a lot of money!
Denise Robertson and Maurice Thibeault
What happens when an unmarried couple scoop a big lottery win, and one of them disappears without trace, leaving the other out in the cold? That’s what happened to Ontario based couple Denise Robertson and Maurice Thibeault when they won $6 million on the Canadian Lotto.
On September 20th, 2017, Maurice, knowing the couple had won the jackpot simply packed his belongings up and moved out of their shared home – without telling Denise and has seemingly vanished without trace.
Robertson, 46 has since successfully lodged a court injunction which has frozen the huge pay out until the matter can be successfully resolved between her lawyers, Thibeault and the Ontario Lottery Regulator.
In a pre-prepared statement issued by the law firm, handling Robertson’s case, she said: “I am greatly saddened and disappointed by what has happened here. This could have been a very happy and exciting time for us as a couple to do things we could only dream of doing.”
The strange tale reveals how Robertson discovered Thibeault has gone to enormous lengths to keep the lottery win a total secret and prevent her from taking her fair share of the money. She outlined the fact that the couple had always bought their lottery tickets and agreed that if a winning ticket was purchased that the proceeds would be split between them as a couple.
On the local radio station she always listened to she heard that on the day they won the draw, one of the tickets had been purchased in their home town of Chatham. On telling Thibeault about it, he assured them that they hadn’t won – and also said the same to their friends and loved ones.
Thibeault left for work as normal on the morning of September 25th this year. During the day Robertson repeatedly tried to contact him via text, but received no responses. When she returned home that night she discovered he’d removed all his possessions, including clothes and toiletries – and that his Canadian passport had also been taken too.
Meanwhile, Thibeault made moves to contact his employers – firstly saying he wouldn’t be coming back into work anymore and secondly sending them a picture of the winning lottery ticket which he had actually bought and lied about. When contacted, he couldn’t be reached for any comment.
It was then the story was uncovered when a friend of Robertson’s shared the rumor that theirs was the winning ticket. A text from Thibeault to his boss was recovered in which he said that he and Robertson were no longer together.
In her statement she also said that she feared Thibeault would leave the country, and therefore she would not get the portion of the winnings she was owed.
A spokesperson for the Ontario Lottery Group indeed confirmed that an injunction had been slapped on the ticket and that the payout had been frozen until the matter could be resolved and the rightful people got their winnings.
It is a story that has got many people talking, with many taking the side of Robertson.
“I think he owes her $3 million, its life-changing money” said Dakota Hodgson of Chatham
Whilst Chatham’s Clair Culliford remarked that the whole tale was terrible and she wouldn’t fault Robertson for taking action to recover money that was hers. “Morally, he should give her some. He should avoid the court action”, she added.
In a final, moving comment, Robertson stated “Together, we dreamed about winning the lotto. We both love muscle cars, (we said) we would buy each other one and buy a large property in the country and build a large shop to work on our cars.” Even though their dreams as a couple have ended, let us hope their case is resolved amicably and Robertson gets the money she deserves from their spoken agreement.
The Ray Sobieski and Nynna Ionson Case
Robertson and Thibeault’s case shares parallels with the case of Ray Sobieski and his former wife Nynna Ionson, also from Canada.
Sobieski picked up a $30-million jackpot from the Super 7 lottery in Canada in 2004, which gave him the freedom to spend when he wanted on what he wanted – a dream many of us can only aspire to. He stopped all his credit cards, put $640,000 into a cash bank account and made sure, after buying a few airline tickets that all his close friends were given a cash gift each.
However, on May 4th of the same year his fortunes took a crash when he suddenly found he was unable to withdraw any money at all from his accounts. He later found that all his assets had been frozen – including his car, a Chevrolet Cavalier which he’d had parked at his parents’ house in Woodstock, Ontario.
The reason his assets were frozen was because of his ex-wife Nynna Ionson, who had married Sobieski in 1998. She put in a statement of claim because she stated Sobieski had kept his lottery win from her and had hatched a plot to stop her getting any of the money she believed she was entitled to. The freezing of the assets is thought to prove the courts seem to think that her case has merit.
The following day, a second order was released by another judge and it gave Mr. Sobeski access to part of his money, but stated $15-million be held in trust whilst the outcome of Ms. Ionson’s court action was decided. The court judge also demanded access to Sobieski’s bank accounts and that he make them aware of all the transactions he’d made since the lottery win.
Speaking at the time, Ionson said: “I still love Ray and I was of the belief that he would be in touch with me and that we would continue to be together. However, now that I have not heard from him over the past four weeks, I have reluctantly come to the conclusion that he does not wish to continue to have a relationship with me and, as such, I have decided to pursue my legal rights.”
The case came to a head some five years later, in 2009 when it emerged that after much negotiation the couple had come to an agreement over what should be done with the money and although it seems both are happy with the outcome the terms of the final deal are secret and won’t ever be made public.
It raises many questions over spousal and long term partner’s rights to claim lottery money if there is a win.