The Oklahoma Lottery Commission does not know the names of individuals who formed a trust recently to claim a $101.8 million jackpot, although law appears to require it.

“We never knew the name of who claimed it — the name of the individuals,” Commission Executive Director Jim Scroggins said earlier this week.

Scroggins said Thursday “a quirk in the law,” may have allowed the trust fund to legally claim the prize and remain anonymous.

The Oklahoma Education Lottery Act prohibits certain individuals from playing or winning the lottery. It also requires the commission to withhold from winnings certain debts owed the state, such as back child support.

If the commission doesn’t know the names of individuals who formed the trust, can the law’s requirements be met?

“There is no way of knowing, right now,” Scroggins said. “There may be a quirk in the law.”

The “quirk” could allow individuals to win jackpots and avoid paying back child support. Also, people not allowed to play the lottery might be able to claim a jackpot.

The people claiming the $101.8 million jackpot on Aug. 1 did so in the name of WJW Investment Trust, meaning the name of a “real person” may never be made public.

“I didn’t know who they are — it’s not in the trust agreement,” Scroggins said.

Scroggins said he called the Attorney General’s Office and was told it was OK to award the money to the trust. He added the AG’s Office advised him that legally a “person” can be an entity.

He said he did not receive a written opinion, which normally takes about 30 days, from the AG’s Office.

“The advice of the AG’s Office was oral advice,” he said.

Attorney General spokesman Charlie Price said an attorney in the office told the commission via a phone call that a trust could claim the prize.

Scroggins said the trustee’s city of residence is Albuquerque, N.M.

“I think winners may be people who live in both Oklahoma and New Mexico or some are there (New Mexico) and some are here,” Scroggins said.

The trust’s attorney, David Walls of Oklahoma City, and the trustee, Richard Barlow, presented the winning ticket, Scroggins said.

“I think that’s the advantage of a trust — not only the names of the individuals are not available, the address is not available,” he said.

The Act bars any share of any prize from being paid to anyone on the commission’s board of trustees, any commission officer or employee or certain relatives living at their residences.

When asked how the public could be assured Scroggins or a commission trustee didn’t form the trust that claimed the prize, Scroggins said people “just have to trust the Lottery.”

How can taxpayers “just trust” the Lottery, Scroggins was asked.

“That’s just the way it is,” he said.

Reach Donna Hales at 684-2923 or dhales@muskogeephoenix.com.





Web site change

A Phoenix inquiry prompted a change in the Oklahoma Lottery Commission’s stated policy on anonymous winners.

The commission on Thursday changed an answer to one of its “Frequently Asked Questions” on its Web site.

• Tuesday:

Question: “If I should win a large top prize, do I have the option of remaining anonymous as far as the public and media are concerned?”

Answer: “No. In accordance with the Oklahoma Open Records Act, a minimum of a name and city of residence will be made public. It is important for the public to know the lottery is run honestly. This way the public can be reassured that the prize was won by a real person.”

• Thursday:

Answer: “In accordance with the Oklahoma Open Records Act and the Oklahoma Education Lottery Act, the name of any individual, corporation, partnership, unincorporated association, limited liability company, or other legal entity, and their city of residence will be made public. It is important for the public to know the lottery is run honestly. This way the public can be reassured that the prize was won by a real person.”

Commission Executive Director Jim Scroggins said that the Phoenix inquiry prompted the change on its Web site so the public would not be confused.

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