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Two couples battle over scratch ticket

BARNSTABLE -- Two couples are fighting in court over ownership of a Massachusetts Lottery scratch ticket worth $4 million.

According to testimony in the civil jury trial in Barnstable Superior Court, which began Monday, Julie Prive was a clerk at a Tedeschi's market in Falmouth in 2002, and began regularly collecting discarded losing scratch tickets. She entered these tickets in the Clean Fun Sweepstakes, the lottery's second-chance game designed to keep used tickets from becoming litter.

Prive said that while double-checking the used tickets, she found a winner worth $4 million.

However, Raymond MacDonald and Monica Hertz claim the winning ticket -- No. 93 in the book of $10 tickets -- was among the 45 tickets they bought that day, May 17, according to their lawyer, Leigh-Ann Patterson.

MacDonald, a retiree from Falmouth, testified that he plays the lottery two or three times a day, spending upwards of $100. He won a $2 million jackpot from a scratch ticket in 1997. According to his lawyers, MacDonald has a distinctive "scratch signature" that would make it possible to show he once had held the ticket.

However, lawyers for Julie Prive and her husband, David, said ownership of the ticket is not clear cut. "The plaintiffs are here for one reason -- they happened to be there at approximately the time the ticket was sold," attorney Jeremy Carter said.

Although the Prives told the lottery commission that Julie had found the ticket, she told a Cape Cod Times reporter at the time that she bought the ticket after she got off work.

While MacDonald and Hertz have tried to stop the Prives from collecting their winnings -- $200,000 a year for 20 years before taxes -- lottery commission officials said they will continue to pay the couple until told to do otherwise by the court, according to court documents. So far, the Prives have been paid $600,000, before taxes.

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