- The Washington Times - Tuesday, January 6, 2004

CLEVELAND (AP) — A hospital worker came forward yesterday and collected a $162 million lottery jackpot, and another woman who told authorities she bought, then lost, the winning ticket filed a lawsuit seeking to halt any payout to the winner.

Rebecca Jemison, 34, of suburban South Euclid, turned in the ticket for the 11-state Mega Millions jackpot at Ohio Lottery headquarters. The lottery validated it yesterday as the sole winning ticket for the drawing.

The woman with the competing claim, Elecia Battle, filed a lawsuit later asking a Cuyahoga County judge to block the lottery from paying Mrs. Jemison.

“My ticket was lost. I do recall all the numbers. They are all somehow family-related. No one can tell me what I did and did not play. I did it honestly, and I have no doubt,” Mrs. Battle told the Associated Press at the office of her attorney, Sheldon Starke.

Earlier, Mrs. Jemison said the competing claim by Mrs. Battle, 40, of Cleveland, prompted her to quit stalling and collect the prize from the Dec. 30 drawing. Mrs. Jemison said she had waited to come forward because she wanted to speak with a lawyer and an accountant.

Police, who had originally said Mrs. Battle’s story was credible, said they were investigating whether she had lied in a police report, a misdemeanor punishable by 30 days to six months in jail.

Dennis G. Kennedy, director of the Ohio Lottery, said the lottery was confident Mrs. Jemison had purchased the ticket, not found it.

Mrs. Jemison provided another lottery ticket purchased at the same time and location and had a lottery ticket that showed she had played the same numbers in the prior drawing, Mr. Kennedy said.

Mrs. Battle’s suggestion on television that she had bought and lost the winning ticket “made me laugh,” Mrs. Jemison said.

“Let authorities handle her,” she said. “It’s very unfortunate that someone would think of something like this.”

Mrs. Jemison, who handles telephone and doctor-paging duties at a suburban hospital, said she is looking forward to buying a new home, taking a vacation and sharing the prize with her family. She and her husband, Sam, have a 12-year-old daughter.

She took her winnings in an immediate lump sum of $94 million, before taxes. After taxes, it will be worth an estimated $67.2 million.

Earlier yesterday, Mrs. Battle’s attorney, unaware that the lottery was validating Mrs. Jemison’s claim, said he intended to make a case that the winning ticket was Mrs. Battle’s lost property.

“If there is one type of property that is not presumed to be abandoned, it’s money,” Mr. Starke said. “Anyone who finds it is not the owner.”

The winning ticket was sold at Quick Shop Food Mart in South Euclid, about 15 miles east of Cleveland.

Mrs. Battle filed a police report saying she dropped her purse as she left the store after buying the ticket. She said she realized after the drawing last Tuesday that the ticket was missing.

She told police that the numbers she picked represented family birthdays and ages.

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