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Bank May Seek Cut of Jackpot for Ex-Employee’s Crime

July 13, 1989

DENVER (AP) _ A bank says it’s considering going after a cut of the $6 million lottery jackpot won by the husband of a former employee who cheated the bank.

″Our attorneys are examining possible options,″ said Beth Smith, spokeswoman for First Interstate Bank of Denver. ″We’re exploring, in light of her recent good fortune, our options to recover some of our losses that she caused.″

The jackpot was won this week by William Romero, whose wife, Darlene, a former bond trader for the bank, pleaded guilty in December to federal charges of making false entries in bank ledgers to make it appear the bank was profiting from her bond trades when it in fact was losing money.

Mrs. Romero was placed on five years’ probation and ordered to pay $12,000 restitution.

The purported profits brought her $66,000 in commissions before she was fired from her job, which carried a $60,000 annual salary.

First Interstate says the scheme cost it $3.5 million in 1987.

It isn’t clear if the bank can tap Romero’s winnings for his wife’s actions because state lottery rules require the money be paid directly to the winner, said Marlene Desmond, a lottery spokeswoman. The couple has declared bankruptcy.

Mrs. Romero’s lawyer, Scott Robinson, said he would oppose any move to go after the winnings. ″At the time of the sentencing, that’s all the money she had,″ he said. ″They can’t take it away from her now just because she has more.″

It’s the second time a Lotto jackpot has proved a bittersweet victory since the game was launched six months ago. In April, Albert Tecci, a public relations and political consultant, and his girlfriend won a $7 million jackpot. Within days, Massachusetts tapped him for $24,700 for eight years of child support.

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