A London-owned newspaper broke news this morning that the Greenwich money managers who showed up to claim a $254 million Connecticut Powerball lotto ticket didn’t actually win the money. Instead, commercial real estate broker Tom Gladstone says Belpointe’s Brandon Lacoff told him they are just managing the money for a client. Daniel Bates of the DailyMail who beat the Greenwich Time to the news has the story here.
Yesterday, the trio from Greenwich-based Belpointe Asset Management showed up in Rocky Hill, CT for a press conference about the big score but left reporters frustrated when they wouldn’t answer detailed questions about how and why they teamed up to buy a single Quickpic ticket. The AP ran a story that Tim Davidson, a trader for Belpointe, said he bought the ticket but according to multiple people at the press conference Davidson only said “our ticket was bought at” the Shippan Point gas station. The emphasis is on the “OUR” here.
People involved with the CT lottery commission told me Lacoff, Skidmore, and Davidson all went through an ethics check before the discounted cash take home pay of $103.5 million was handed out. This means their individual names were checked to see if they had any liens or unpaid taxes against them and all three passed. The check was made out to the Putnam Avenue Family Trust (a street in downtown Greenwich) and it’s unclear when Team Belpointe set up this trust. Assuming Gladstone has his facts straight and the trio didn’t win the ticket this leaves the CT Lottery Commission with a challenge. They can’t check if there are liens or unpaid taxes against the real winner. So while it’s great the State made $14 million* off this Powerball run I’m still bothered that our system allows anonymity for lotto winners. How do we know they are even a US Citizen?
Another problem for the Belpointe boys, besides the fact they just appeared to have lied to press and the lotto commission about winning the ticket, is they might have gotten caught up in fraudulent conveyance. According to people who work with the commission if the real winner set up the Trust to hide incoming money that is owed or claimed by others then that’s a big NO-NO. But until we know the identity of the winner we might not ever get this answer. Of course the CT AG could encourage the Lotto Commission to look into this. The CT lotto President was in a closed door meeting when I called and has not responded to these questions yet but this situation reads like the Belpointe boys have some more explaining to do.
UPDATE 2:30pm: I learned from people involved with the CT Lotto Commision that the Belpointe Boys working as trustees for Putnam Aveune Family Trust have not actually gotten the funds from the lotto commision yet. This might be why the government officials were locked in closed doors late this morning and could still have a chance to show CT residents the money is going into clean hands.
UPDATE 11.30.11 – Team Belpointe has hired an expensive New York PR firm run by Howard Rubenstein and last night we get a carefully scripted statement denying there is an anonoymous fourth participant. My favorite (and informed) Greenwich blogger Chris Fountain has a few choice words on who is lying here and I have to agree with him. The PR firm has been crafty with their statement though and I’d like to see Team Belpointe deny there is another beneficiary of the trust, which in my book is different than a ‘participant’ or additional trustee. But until we see a copy of the trust agreement we’ll likely never know who really won the jackpot ticket. The CT Lotto Commision could ask for a copy and see who the beneficiary is so an unpaid taxes and liens check could be performed but I’m not counting on the State giving lotto winners a hard time. Why – well it’s bad PR for them to scare off all the illegal residents wasting their hard earned greenbacks betting on the easy money American dream. Or as Chris Fountain puts it: This is also known as “a regressive tax on stupid people“.
* Frank Farricker, Chairman of the CT Lottery, says $4 million was earned in additional sales after the Powerball went above $200 million and $10 million was collected in CT taxes. The $14 million goes into the general State budget fund.