Criminal Justice

Lottery lawyer's 'luck has run out' after sentencing judge says he is responsible for $62M in client losses

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Jason Kurland

Jason Kurland was featured in a 2016 ABA Journal article about attorneys who represent clients who have received financial windfalls. (ABA Journal file photo by Len Irish)

Self-described lottery lawyer Jason Kurland, a former Rivkin Radler partner, has been sentenced to 13 years in prison for participating in a scheme that allegedly cost his clients more than $100 million in net losses.

Misrepresentations by Kurland, 49, and his co-defendants caused losses of more than $80 million for his lottery-winning clients, according to a June 15 Justice Department press release. Kurland also took $19.5 million from the account of one lottery winner for an investment that was mostly plundered by co-defendants, the government says.

The sentences for Kurland and a co-defendant show “their luck has run out, and this office will prosecute anyone who chooses to engage in fraud—no matter their title or degree,” said U.S. Attorney Damian Williams in a statement.

U.S. District Judge Nicholas Garaufis imposed the sentence after finding that Kurland was responsible for $62 million of losses incurred by his clients, according to reporting by Law360. “This abuse of power would be problematic in any profession, but it is grotesque and unfathomable for a lawyer,” Garaufis said.

Kurland’s lawyer had argued that only $626,000 in client losses was attributable to Kurland. According to a June 15 prosecution sentencing memorandum, that was the amount of money he received in kickbacks.

Prosecutors say Kurland retained three lottery winners as clients beginning in mid-2018. They were the winners of a $1.5 billion Mega Millions lottery, a $245 million Powerball jackpot, and another $150 million jackpot. They had hired Kurland for investment advice.

Kurland steered his clients to invest in merchant cash-advance businesses Kurland partly owned, and he received undisclosed kickbacks on a percentage of the winners’ investments, prosecutors said in the sentencing memorandum and press release. On one occasion, Kurland persuaded a lottery winner to purchase the business he partly owned for $2 million, resulting in a large payout to Kurland and two other owners who were co-defendants, the government says.

“Motivated by greed,” the press release says, Kurland and the two co-defendants “haphazardly invested the lottery victims’ money in high-risk deals, which turned out to be a Ponzi scheme. … Within a little more than a year, a large portion of the Lottery Victims’ investment capital, totaling more than $40 million, was lost.”

To try to recoup the losses, Kurland and his co-defendants “resorted to investing” in COVID-19 personal protective equipment deals, the press release says. Kurland allegedly took $19.5 million from one of the lottery victims’ accounts—without permission—for the investments, but much of the money was skimmed off the top by the co-defendants.

Kurland, 49, of Dix Hills, New York, was convicted in July 2022. He was found guilty of wire fraud, wire fraud conspiracy, honest services wire fraud, unlawful monetary transactions and a related conspiracy charge.

In addition to serving a prison sentence, Kurland will be ordered to forfeit $64.6 million, Garaufis said. The judge said he would also consider appropriate restitution, according to the Law360 story.

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