MARION COUNTY, Fla. – Charles Dennis Engelhardt’s legacy of state lottery winnings took a strange turn this month when the DEO and Florida Lottery withheld his $600 Florida Lotto X winnings to cover part of a “current debt balance” of $1,799 for an unemployment overpayment.
Engelhardt told News 6 the notices made no sense because he and his wife retired in early 2014 and have had no reason to collect unemployment benefits over the last 8 years.
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“We were making close to what we were making before we retired,” he said, speaking with News 6 from his home in Sparr, Florida. “Then in July 2014, we hit the lottery.”
On July 25, 2014, to be exact, the Engelhardts won the Lucky Money jackpot of $2 million. According to the Lotto press release, “he chose the one-time lump sum payment option” of $1,442,664.80.
“We were set, our kids were set,” he said.
Ironically, in 1992, Engelhardt won the $228,231 Fantasy 5 top prize with no red flag from the state. But this time, the smallest of his three lotto jackpots exposed what a DEO investigator called a clear case of fraud.
“It had to happen after 2014,” Engelhardt reasoned. “Because in 2014, when we hit the lotto, they would have done the same check as they did for the $600.”
The DEO traced the unemployment benefits to the Frank Crum payroll company in Clearwater. News 6 asked Engelhardt to use the company’s website to see if there was a W-2 tax form for 2014.
What he found was a W-2 showing he had earned and paid taxes on more than $2,300 in 2014. The name, address and social security number on the document were completely accurate, but Engelhardt reaffirmed he was already retired and had no need for additional income or state unemployment benefits.
Engelhardt reacted to what appeared to be wages for a part time job in a text to News 6: “Never had a part-time job in my life.”
The DEO told Engelhardt it could take a few weeks to trace how much unemployment money was collected by the imposter. Engelhardt is expected to have his $600 lottery winnings reimbursed by the DEO.
If you have an unemployment issue, email firstname.lastname@example.org or text the words “make ends meet” along with your issue to 407-676-7428.