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Judge Blocks Ex-Wife’s Access to Doctor’s Lottery Dollars

February 15, 1991

NEWPORT, R.I. (AP) _ A doctor who won $2.4 million in a lottery does not have to share his winnings with his former wife, even though he waited until their divorce was completed before cashing in, a judge ruled.

Dr. Nagib Giha, 58, denied that he purposely delayed turning in the December 1988 winning ticket in an attempt to defraud his former wife, Nelly.

Giha said he waited 10 months because he was in poor health and was afraid of being bombarded by requests for money. He cashed the ticket on Oct. 6, 1989, six months after the divorce became final.

A divorce agreement specified that Mrs. Giha was entitled to no more than $52,000 in alimony and that the rest of their assets, including their Rhode Island home and Florida condominium, were to be divided evenly.

When all the assets were liquidated, Mrs. Giha received less than $100,000, plus the $52,000 in alimony payments that ended last year, said her lawyer, Christopher F. Long, who pledged to appeal to the state Supreme Court.

Family Court Judge Raymond Shawcross said at a hearing Thursday that the agreement had to govern the case. There was no evidence of fraud and Giha was not required to tell his wife about the winning ticket, Shawcross said.

To require that could provoke legal chaos, the judge said.

″The fact that he won $2.4 million was most fortuitous,″ Shawcross said. ″But what if he had lost $2.4 million? Could he have returned to the court and requested that Mrs. Giha share in his debt?″

Giha, who now lives in Peru, is entitled to collect $120,000 a year for 20 years. He collected his third installment in December, but a probate judge in Bristol County., Mass., last month approved Mrs. Giha’s request for an order prohibiting her husband from using the money until the Rhode Island case was resolved.

Giha’s lawyer said he now would try to have that order dissolved.

Mrs. Giha now lives in Florida and has no disposable income, her lawyer said.

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