“She Told Me I Wasn’t Going to Get a Dime”

80-Year-Old sisters take their battle over $500,000 ticket to court

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Among the nine siblings in their family, Rose Bakaysa and her younger sister Theresa Sokaitis shared a special bond.

As they hit their 70s and 80s, their dream of jackpot riches became a central part of that connection, fueling road trips three or four times a week to Foxwoods Resort Casino and countless lottery tickets that yielded a few bucks here and there, but no major money.

That was until June 2005. Bakaysa and her brother won a $500,000 Powerball jackpot and, it would seem, the sisters' dreams finally had come true.

But that is not the case, which is why the sisters were in court on Tuesday.

The sisters haven't spoken since Sokaitis sued Bakaysa in 2005 but faced each other in New Britain Superior Court.

Sokaitis, 84, says Bakaysa, 87, violated a written, notarized contract to split all winnings.

Bakaysa says Sokaitis had broken off the deal during a 2004 fight over a few hundred dollars. Sokaitis acknowledges they had a tiff, but believes the contract was still in place.

"I love my sister. There was no reason not to be partners," Sokaitis testified Tuesday.

Sokaitis said Bakaysa often helped her pay rent while she was raising her six children, helped her get back her car when it was repossessed and paid for one of her daughters' Catholic school tuition.

It was that daughter who informed Sokaitis of Bakaysa's $500,000 Powerball jackpot, which Bakaysa split with their brother instead of Sokaitis.

Bakaysa testified Tuesday that she started gambling with her brother instead of Sokaitis after their 2004 fight, which came not long after Bakaysa stayed with Sokaitis for a few weeks while recovering from heart surgery.

"She was shouting, 'I don't want to be your partner anymore.' I said all right, that was it, I tore up my contract," Bakaysa testified, sitting about 25 feet from Sokaitis as her sister hung her cane on the courtroom railing.

When Sokaitis learned of her sister's lottery win the next year, she asked for her share.

"I told her I felt I deserved a share of the money and she told me I wasn't going to get a dime," Sokaitis testified. "I said, 'I have a contract.' She said, 'I tore mine up.' I said, 'I didn't."'

The brother, Joseph Troy Sr., was scheduled to testify Tuesday afternoon. A ruling was not immediately expected.

A judge had dismissed Sokaitis' lawsuit under a Connecticut law that makes gambling contracts illegal. But the state Supreme Court, in a ruling that took effect in August, said the sisters' agreement wasn't covered by that law because it involves legal activities. It said the case could go to trial.

Copyright AP - Associated Press
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