A woman who kept $1.3 million in lottery winnings se-cr-et from her estranged husband to av-oid having to give him half in their d!vo-rce settlement, will now have to turn over the full amount to him, according to a district Court of Appeal’s ruling.
Denise Rossi must give up her entire lottery share under a Family Code statute that pe-nal!zes spouses for fals!fying data about their property. In upholding an order by Los Angeles Superior Court, the appeals panel rejected Rossi’s assertion that her winnings were actually a gift of separate property from her co-worker, who headed a lottery pool that hit the jackpot in December 1996.
Rossi, also known as Denise De Rossi, cla!m-ed she paid $5 a week into the pool along with other workplace colleagues, but that she pulled out just before her group won $6.68 million.
Instead of being entitled to a community property c*t of the pot, she said, she really was given only a separate property gift by her co-workers who had recently played the lottery with her.
Justice Norman Epstein of Div. Four sited that the argum-ent was not credible. He noted that Rossi filed for d!vo-rce less than a month after her group won the lottery, she consulted with the state lottery commission on how she could keep her husband from getting the money, she used her mother’s address for annual checks and other correspondence from lottery officials so her husband wouldn’t know about it, and she never did tell her husband about her jackpot.
He found out about it a year and a half later when a letter was sent in her name to his address, asking if she was interested in a lump-sum buy-out of her lottery winnings.
“The record supports the family court’s conclusion that Denise intentionally concealed the lottery winnings and that they were community property,” Epstein said. Under those circumstances, Thomas Rossi was ent!tled to 100 percent of the lottery winnings.
The appeals court also re*ected Denise Rossi’s cla!m that her ex-husband’s own un*lean hands overcame the statutory penalty. She ar*ued that her former spouse battered her emotionally and physically and that he also kept some ass-ets hidden from the court. But Epstein said the cases she cited to support her contention were off point.
The Superior Court could have awarded the ex-husband attorney fees on top of the award, but in its d!scre-tion decided not to.