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California Lottery Has String of Unlucky Winners

December 6, 1985 GMT

LOS ANGELES (AP) _ A Guatemalan who won $2 million with a spin of the California Lottery wheel surrendered to immigration authorities Thursday, the latest in a string of winners whose instant money has brought instant trouble.

Julio Morales, 23, a construction worker who lives in Hollywood, attracted the attention of immigration authorities after he won Monday, when he nervously refused to tell reporters how he came to the United States.

Morales is the second $2 million lottery winner to face possible deportation.

Jose Caballero of San Jose won the top prize Nov. 4 and was arrested by federal agents two days later. Caballero has admitted coming here illegally from Mexico.

Caballero and Morales join a wild-card club of lottery winners who also have lost, among them a woman who was arrested on an outstanding petty theft charge, a man whose winnings were attached for delinquency on child support payments and a woman who saw most of her $100,000 prize frozen by a company suing her husband.

″When you’re drawing from a universe in which there are all kinds of people, you’re going to get a little bit of everything,″ said California Lottery spokesman Bob Taylor.

So far, 120 people have spun the wheel, 11 of them winning $2 million and the others winning a total of $26.63 million.

Morales already has a brother and sister, 15-year-old twins, facing a February deportation hearing, said Joe Thomas, deputy director for the U.S. Immigration and Naturalization Service.

Even if Caballero and Morales are deported, both can keep their winnings, although the federal income tax bite of the yearly $100,000 checks will be increased from 20 percent to 30 percent.

Besides winners who become losers, the lottery also has turned up double losers and losers who became winners.

Bill Woehl, 42, a self-described compulsive gambler from Fresno who papered his wall with more than $2,800 in losing lottery tickets, reportedly purchased them with money provided by the federal government to support his mentally retarded son.

Federal officials, who say use of such money to buy lottery tickets is illegal, have begun an investigation. Woehl, who is unemployed, has said the family bought living necessities before buying lottery tickets.

Salvador Valencia Rodriguez had a winning $100 ticket, qualifying him for a drawing, in which he won a chance at the Big Spin.

But to get to the spin, Rodriguez’s lawyer had to arrange to release him briefly from the Orange County Jail where he was serving time on a variety of charges, including burglary and drug possession.

Rodriguez’s spin won $50,000, which he said was enough to change his life. He returned to jail to serve out his term.

″It hasn’t been a run-of-the-mill group,″ lottery Director Mark Michalko said of the spin winners.

Donna Sobb, 31, a Sacramento welfare mother, was arrested on an outstanding petty theft warrant after police saw her name in a newspaper story about lottery winners. She won $50,000, but her new wealth prompted officials to remove her from welfare rolls.

Sharon Nunez, 29, of Newport Beach had nearly all her $100,000 prize frozen by court order after a company sued her husband for $10 million, contending Raul Nunez didn’t pay rent for equipment used in his restaurant business.

Joseph M. Frontino, 33, of Riverside had his $10,000 prize diverted toward $11,600 in delinquent child-support payments stemming from Superior Court cases in three counties.