‘Lottery Lawyer’ Gets 13 Years for Bilking Winners for $107M

Posted on: June 20, 2023, 07:49h. 

Last updated on: June 20, 2023, 11:46h.

A self-described “lottery lawyer,” who represented some of America’s biggest winners, has been ordered to spend the next 13 years in federal prison for defrauding his clients of $107 million.

Jason Kurland, lottery lawyer, prison sentence
Jason Kurland, above, stole from his clients, a jury determined. These included the winner of the world’s all-time biggest jackpot, $1.5 billion. (Image: David Handschuh/NYLJ)

Jason Kurland, 49, was convicted of wire fraud, honest services wire fraud, and money laundering last July. He used his position as a trusted legal professional to entice his clients to invest in companies he secretly owned while accepting illegal “finder’s fees” for brokering the deals.

Kurland positioned himself as America’s premier lottery legal expert and even owned the URL lotterylawyer.com. Among his clients was the all-time biggest lottery winner in history, the anonymous South Carolina individual who took the $1.5 billion Mega Millions jackpot in 2018.

Cheddar Capital

Kurland’s side venture was a merchant cash advance business called Cheddar Capital, whose partners included Frankie Russo, son of the late Colombo crime family capo, Joseph “JoJo” Russo.

In 2018, Kurland, Russo, and a third partner in the business, Frank Smookler, met with a Long Island jeweler, Greg Altieri.

Altieri told the trio he could buy jewelry at “clearout” prices and flip them for a 30% to 70% profit, but he needed capital. Sensing a “foolproof” moneymaking opportunity, Kurland convinced his lottery clients to invest around $80 million in the venture.

The FBI arrested Altieri in 2020 for running a massive Ponzi scheme. The Cheddar Capital trio panicked and began chasing their losses. As the pandemic gripped the nation, they stumbled on a company that planned to supply PPE equipment to the state of California.

Kurland convinced the anonymous South Carolina winner to invest $19.5 million into this scheme. When he was told twice that much would be needed, he simply helped himself to the rest from his client’s bank account, which he controlled.

Bad Investments

The PPE company proved to be another shady venture. The business was operated by reputed Genovese crime family soldier Christopher Chierchio, and Kurland never saw a return on the investment.

Last week, Chierchio was sentenced to five years imprisonment after pleading guilty to conspiracy to commit wire fraud and money laundering. He was also ordered to forfeit $26.5 million and pay $30.5 million in restitution.

Kurland was the only defendant in the case not to plead guilty. His lawyers argued that he was a victim of the others. A jury disagreed.

Telemachus Kasulis, an attorney representing Kurland, told The Associated Press that he disagreed with the decision and planned to appeal.

The amount Kurland will be required to forfeit and pay as restitution will be determined within the next 90 days, prosecutors said.