A Massachusetts man who won $1 million on a $10 lottery scratch ticket has been charged with drug trafficking.
Police in the town of Haverhill executed a search warrant on the suspect's apartment earlier this week after an informant allegedly made two buys from the suspect, who apparently was on welfare. "Haverhill police raided [the suspect's] Arch Street apartment Wednesday, where they found more than an ounce of marijuana, a 'sophisticated' pot-growing operation with lamps under a tent in his bedroom and 21 grams of cocaine, brass knuckles and a machete, cops and prosecutors said. Cops also found EBT cards in the couple's names as well as evidence the pair was benefiting from subsidized housing, prosecutors said," the Boston Herald reported.
An Electronic Benefit Transfer (EBT) card is a similar to a debit card except that it is used by government to issue food stamps and cash benefits to those collecting public assistance. The state of Massachusetts, through the Department of Transitional Assistance, which was aware of the lottery winnings, is apparently looking into his eligibility for benefits.
The suspect, identified by multiple media outlets as Gary L. Bond, 32, pleaded not guilty to cocaine trafficking charges and marijuana possession. Bond for Bond was set at $50,000. His wife was also charged and entered a not guilty plea.
"Bond had a doctor's note saying that the use of medical marijuana might help ease his painful back, but prosecutors say that didn't mean he could open a dispensary," the NBC News affiliate WHDH reported.
Prosecutor Stephen Patten told the Eagle Tribune that "the couple had plenty of money based on the lottery winnings, yet they still received government money for living expenses." He added that "what's shocking is that they are both on housing assistance and both have EBT cards in their names that were seized by police."
Bond's winning lottery ticket netted him $455,000 (based on a lump-sum payout of $650,000 before taxes). A posting on the Mass Lottery webpage indicates that in August, Bond won $1 million in the state's $4 million "Gold Bullion" instant game and noted that "he plans on spending some of his windfall on a new home."
Reacting to the lottery winner's arrest, a lottery official declared, "The Lottery doesn't have legal standing to retrieve a prize that was awarded via a valid claim."