Waco Jury Settles Squabble Over $1.24 Million ‘Fools’ Gold’ Jackpot

Posted on: July 30, 2017, 10:00h. 

Last updated on: July 29, 2017, 10:23h.

A husband and wife from Texas, who sued a man for half of a $1.24 million casino jackpot that he had agreed to split 50/50 having provided the stake, was slapped down by a jury in Waco, Texas, this week.

Waco Jury Settles casino jackpot case
Steven Cutbirth, who tried to do a good deed only to find himself dragged through the courts, was vindicated by a court in Waco this week, although he may end up with a nasty tax bill this year. (Image: Waco Tribune-Herald)

The dispute arose from a trip Lacey Newman, 32, who was at the time estranged from her husband Jonathan Newman, took in 2014 with Steven M. Cutbirth, 54, to Diamond Jack’s Casino, 230 miles away in Bossier City, Louisiana,

Newman was only days away from divorcing her husband, a local police officer, when Cutbirth suggested he drive her to Bossier City in an effort to cheer her up. Cutbirth would pay for everything, even her gambling money, he said.

She readily agreed. And, crucially, according to Cutbirth and later the jury, she also agreed to splitting any winnings straight down the middle.

Newman testified in court there had been no such agreement.

Bad Time to Win Big

At Diamond Jack’s, Newman struck gold. Using money supplied by Cutbirth, she hit the $1.24 million jackpot on the Wheel of Fortune slot.

Realizing that hitting the jackpot three days before your divorce is possibly the most inconvenient time to win a life-changing amount of money, Newman desperately tried to have the win registered in Cutbirth’s name rather than her own, in order to hide the windfall from her husband.

The casino refused, since it was she who pushed the button.

The pair then hot-footed back to Waco, where they signed an agreement to split the $868,000 they had received in a cash-buyout option between them.

But Newman’s cop husband was on the case and sued her for half of her $434,000 cut. But somehow, in the middle of this cutthroat litigation, the Newmans were reconciled and called off divorce proceedings.

And all ends happily ever after, right?

But no. The happy couple decided to sue Cutbirth for his cut.

All the Money Gone

During the four-day trial, the court heard that neither Cutbirth nor the Newmans had any of the money left. Worse, the Newmans admitted owing $500,000 to the IRS in back taxes, penalties and interest.

Because Lacey Newman won the jackpot in her own name, she was taxed on the full amount, although this situation should now be resolved with the IRS since a court of law has decided the windfall was split.

She testified that she bought a $63,000 truck for herself the day she returned from Louisiana and a $41,000 truck that she “gave to a friend.”

The jury took three hours to decide in Cutbirth’s favor.

“I ain’t going to change nothing I do. Just because there is one bad apple, doesn’t mean there’s two,” declared Cutbirth after winning his court case against the couple.

Math is clearly not his strong point.