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Garbage man collects, and keeps on collecting

January 27, 1997

NEW YORK (AP) _ Sergio Martini became a rich man overnight but is still reporting to work, doing a job some people wouldn’t do for a million bucks.

``I’m not the kind of guy to stay home and do nothing,″ the 12-year New York City garbage man said Monday, working hatless in 15-degree wind chill during a shift that started at midnight.

``I feel more energetic now since winning,″ Martini added, tapping dripping coffee cups out of the bottom of a litter basket. ``I only have to work one job now.″

The 50-year-old father of four won a $10.3 million Powerball lottery jackpot on Thursday. He will get about $370,000 a year for 20 years.

Up until last week, Martini had worked double shifts for the city Sanitation Department and drove his brother’s taxi to pay the bills. He quit the taxi job a day after winning the lottery.

But Martini, who according to the city makes a base salary of about $40,000 and a total of around $70,000 with overtime, insisted he will stay on the garbage beat for at least 2 1/2 more years to qualify for his pension.

In the meantime, he said, ``I’ve got to find a hobby or something.″

Martini’s beat includes some of the most stylish neighborhoods of his native Manhattan but still is dangerous. There are rats, chemicals, toxins, needles _ name the nastiness of New York City, and Martini’s handled it.

Four New York City sanitation workers have been killed on the job since 1992.

``If that was me,″ co-worker Joe Giammarino said, ``you’d be doing that story in the Bahamas.″

``Hawaii,″ said Martini’s supervisor, Frederick Orttner.

Along Martini’s route, Marinos Franziskos, manager of the Times Square Deli on 43rd Street, said: ``The guy makes $10 million and he still wants to work? That’s beautiful.″

Martini, who commutes more than 50 miles to work from suburban Brewster, said that before he won the lottery, bills had pushed him to the brink of bankruptcy. His 7-year-old Suzuki car just turned 201,000 miles, and he banged it up on a patch of ice driving to work a day after winning the jackpot.

``We were so poor, so many things to do, living day by day,″ he said.

Now he is planning to pay off his bills, buy three new cars from his 23-year-old car-saleswoman daughter, and set up trust funds for her and his three sons, ages 11 and 18.

There is one luxury Martini has in mind: ``a real vacation,″ his first in 25 years, since he and wife, Elena, took their honeymoon in Italy.

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