Across The Country, Convicted Sex Offenders Are Winning Big Bucks In Lotteries: Should They Be Allowed To Keep Their Winnings?

Winning the lottery is the dream of everyone who buys a ticket, but what if the winner turns out to be a convicted sex offender?

Across the United States, convicted sex offenders are winning thousands, tens of thousands, hundreds of thousands, even millions in state lotteries, according to Today. They’re allowed to do with their winnings as they please, just like any other lottery winner. And at least one lawmaker, Florida state Senator Darren Soto, wants to change that.

“My bill would provide that the winnings would be frozen to up to a year for a sexual predator so that the victims could have an opportunity to seek compensation and justice.”

In fact, the very same scenario that Soto envisions is already playing out in a Florida courtroom. In December 2014, according to this Inquisitr report, convicted sex offender Timothy Dale Poole won $3 million via a Florida Lottery instant ticket.

Florida Lottery winner, and convicted sex offender, Timothy Poole.

Once news of his lottery win broke, two of Poole’s victims sued for a share of his lottery prize. Their lawyer, Mark NeJame, believes that Poole’s victims deserve compensation.

“We are not attempting to get him any additional prison time. He has served his time to society, but he has not served his dues for the alleged massive damage caused to these children.”

In fact, in statements he made via WXIA (Atlanta), NeJame seems to have a problem with sex offenders being rich just on general principle.

“There’s something inherently wrong with these sex offenders now becoming instant millionaires, living the life of Riley, living large, and their victims getting ignored.”

At least one convicted sex offender has used his lottery winnings to allegedly commit more sex crimes. Daniel Snay of Uxbridge, Massachusetts, won $10 million in the Massachusetts Lottery in 2008. Since then, he’s alleged to have used his lottery money to buy gifts, such as all-terrain vehicles, in exchange for the silence of his teenage victim. He is currently in jail awaiting trial.

Despite overwhelming odds against them, some convicted sex offenders to manage to turn their lives around, and believe that they deserve the same opportunities — such as the chance to win millions in the lottery — as the rest of us.

Fred Topous of Michigan claims to be just such a person. He has a laundry list of felonies and misdemeanors — burglary, weapons charges, etc. — to his name, according to Lottery Post. He also is a convicted sex offender. However, after doing his time, he managed to secure a job, stay out of trouble, and keep a low profile. That is, until he won $57 million in the Mega Millions lottery. That was when he made news as a lottery-winning sex offender. And his boss believes that, sex offender or not, Topous deserves his money.

“He’s not the bad person he’s been made out to be. He deserves everything he got, and congratulations to you, Fred.”

In the U.S., the life of a convicted sex offender is far from easy. It’s almost impossible for a convicted felon, let alone a sex offender, to get a job, according to the Nation. Restrictions on where convicted sex offenders can live are so tight that, in some states, sex offenders are confined to seedy motels outside of town, or even to homeless camps, according to Think Progress.

An encampment of homeless sex offenders in Miami.

In fact, human rights advocates claim that such laws are essentially platitudes that purport to protect would-be victims but actually inhumanely punish sex offenders long after their their prison sentences are up, according to Human Rights Watch. Tough-on-crime politicians, meanwhile, insist that such laws are necessary to protect people in their districts — especially children — from sexual violence, so such laws either stay on the books or even multiply.

Any law restricting a sex offender’s access to his lottery winnings would be just such a law.

Do you believe that sex offenders should be allowed to play and win the lottery, and keep their money? Sound off in the comments below.

[Images courtesy of: Lottery Post, New York Daily News, Think Progress]