New York attorney Crawford Shaw is in the center of a odd mystery. Just two hours before the passing of a deadline for a jackpot ticket to the state lottery, Shaw contacted the Iowa Lottery to submit the winning ticket on behalf of an unnamed client. The ticket was sold 13 months previously at a Des Moines gas station with a payout of $7.5 million cash or $10.3 million spread over 25 years. However, things then got pretty weird. The Iowa lottery proclaims that “Anything Can Happen” and it appears it has.
Both Iowa Division of Criminal Investigation and the Iowa attorney general have been asked to investigate the matter and Shaw has withdrawn the claim as mysteriously as it was made. Officials say that they received the ticket on behalf of a trust on Dec. 29th — a trust listed as a corporation in the country of Belize. When the lottery asked about how the ticket was located and the identification of the purchaser, Shaw withdrew the claim. The lottery wants to know how Shaw, 76, obtained the ticket to make sure it wasn’t stolen and that a valid player bought it. Shaw — not the client — signed the ticket on behalf of the trust. Shaw signed on behalf of Bedford, N.Y.-based Hexham Investments Trust, but misspelled the trust name. He shipped the ticket by FedEx to a Des Moines law firm for submission to the lottery. He then sent a fax to the lottery saying that he simply did not know the identity of the purchaser.
As questions grew, Shaw, 76, had the local firm submit a fax that read “In order that the claim be resolved without further controversy, Crawford Shaw, as Trustee for and on behalf of the Trust, does hereby withdraw the Claim and does hereby agree to take no further action to enforce the Claim.”
Shaw reportedly has been involved in controversies involving fraud in the past, including a minor role in Industrial Enterprises of America, a chemical company that was bankrupted in 2009 in a stock manipulation scheme.
There is no evidence that Shaw would have benefitted from the ticket’s redemption, but lawyers can be sanctioned for failing to make reasonable inquiries on the basis for claims and, of course, there are criminal penalties if a lawyer knowingly participates in a fraudulent claim.