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Jury Decides Former Couple Should Split Jackpot

December 4, 1991

WASHINGTON, Pa. (AP) _ Gary Fender said a jury’s verdict brought back his faith in people.

It also brought back $4.1 million dollars that slipped away two years ago when Fender and his girlfriend broke up and she walked away with a winning lottery ticket.

A jury decided Tuesday that Sylvia A. Trapuzzano should share her $8.25 million lottery jackpot with Fender, who said he had bought the winning ticket with her but never signed it.

″It brought back a lot of my faith and a lot of my trust in people,″ Fender said of the verdict. ″The most valuable thing I gained today is my trust and belief in people.″

Ms. Trapuzzano’s attorney, Charles F. Scarlata, said the verdict would be appealed.

″We’re disappointed in the outcome as you can well understand,″ Scarlata said.

Ms. Trapuzzano and the jurors declined to talk to reporters.

The jury of six men and six women deliberated more than 14 hours over two days before voting 10-2 to award half the money to Fender, 40, of Houston, Washington County. A male and female juror dissented.

Only 10 votes are required for a verdict in civil cases in Pennsylvania.

Fender testified he bought the ticket with Trapuzzano, 37, of Canonsburg when the two were living together. He said he didn’t sign it because he was afraid his two ex-wives would sue for part of the jackpot. Ms. Trapuzzano promised to share the money with him, Fender said.

Ms. Trapuzzano said her father bought the ticket, and she never agreed to share the money with Fender.

Fender’s attorney, T. Lawrence Palmer, said his client rejected offers to settle the case Monday and Tuesday.

″You’re looking at one of the best gamblers I’ve ever seen,″ Palmer said, referring to Fender.

″I just want to thank God,″ Fender said. ″I’m just glad the truth was brought out and people believed in me.″

Ms. Trapuzzano has collected three annual installments of $317,524 since she produced a winning ticket for the Super 7 lottery drawn April 26, 1989. The ticket was one of 14 winners for the record $115.6 million jackpot.

Fender was seeking half of the money Ms. Trapuzzano has already received and half of the remaining 23 payments.

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