A former East Millinocket woman, who became the largest single lottery winner in U.S. history in 2013, is suing her son for allegedly mismanaging her $278 million Powerball jackpot.
An attorney for 90-year-old Gloria C. Mackenzie, who now lives in Florida, said in a 40-page lawsuit that her son and caretaker, Scott Mackenzie, and his investment manager lived off the winnings while poorly investing her money, according to the Florida Times-Union.
The lawsuit said that Gloria Mackenzie suffered damages in excess of $10 million from negligence, conspiracy to misrepresent and breach of fiduciary duty, the Times-Union reports. It also accused her son of not acting in good faith and violating his legal duties as power of attorney, saying he received unjust enrichment from exploiting a vulnerable adult.
Her attorney, Gregory Anderson, said in the lawsuit that Mackenzie’s winnings should have generated “tens of millions of dollars” in gains after her son hired a Jacksonville investment manager, who Anderson described as unqualified to handle the account and accused of overcharging for his services, according to the Times-Union.
“You don’t have to know anything more than a branch manager at a bank to come back with some significant returns,” he said. “At the same time, he [the investment manager] was charging my lady, age 90 and in ill health, $2 million in fees.”
It’s unclear how much of her winnings remain.
On Tuesday, a Jacksonville judge heard a motion to dismiss the lawsuit filed by attorneys Lee Wedekind III and Dell Chappell, who represent Scott Mackenzie, the Times-Union reports. An earlier version of the lawsuit was dismissed on Feb. 14, and an amended suit was filed on March 6. The judge has yet to rule on the latest motion for dismissal.
The motion claimed the lawsuit is solely based on allegations that Scott Mackenzie introduced his mother to an investment adviser who put her in “conservative investment vehicles, in accordance with her chosen investment objectives, and effectively preserved her wealth,” the Times-Union reports
“That Gloria’s accounts did not increase in value as much as plaintiffs, in hindsight, would like is not a proper basis for a lawsuit,” the motion said.
Wedekind said in a statement that his client is “deeply disappointed” with his family members’ decisions and their motivations in bringing this lawsuit but is equally confident that the truth will prevail, according to the Times-Union.
Gloria Mackenzie bought her winning Powerball ticket on May 18, 2013, at a Publix supermarket in Zephyrhills, Florida. The winning ticket was valued at $590 million, which netted Mackenzie about $278 million after taxes.
Later that summer, Mackenzie bought a 6,322-square-foot, five-bedroom home in Glen Kernan Country Club, a gated golf course community in southeast Jacksonville, for $1,175,000, an upgrade from her rental unit in a Zephyrhills trailer park.
But aside from the typical lottery splurging, Mackenzie also turned her attention to philanthropy in the Maine community she moved from years ago.
In 2013, Mackenzie offered to make a $1.8 million gift to repair Schenck High School’s roof in East Millinocket, made in two installments in November 2013 and January 2014. The gift was used to fix the school’s roof and improve the building’s compliance with the Americans With Disabilities Act, among other repairs.
Mackenize through her charitable organization, The Gloria C. MacKenzie Foundation, has given more than $3 million in grants to various groups across the state, including $185,698 to the East Millinocket School Department in 2018 to purchase desks and chairs, a scoreboard for the softball field, a fence for the baseball field, to expand the performing arts program, replace exterior doors and for professional development, and $60,000 to Eastern Maine Community College and Katahdin Region Higher Education Center in 2017 to create a college transition program.