Via Tampa Bay News reports:
A few weeks before Thanksgiving, staff at the Loving Care assisted living facility in St. Petersburg realized something had changed in Malcolm Ramsey’s life.
Relatives who had never paid much attention to Ramsey, 55 and mentally incompetent, suddenly started showing up in droves. Bulging bags from T.J. Maxx and Bealls filled his half of a tiny, shared bedroom. Boxes of new athletic shoes — Nike, New Balance, K-Swiss — towered against the wall.
Then there were the rumors that Ramsey had hit it big in the Florida Lottery.
Ramsey’s legal guardian got involved. So did St. Petersburg police, an adult protective services worker and, eventually, a judge. And slowly, the story came out.
Sometime in October, Ramsey had won “$500 a week for life” on a scratch-off Florida Lottery ticket. With the help of a cab driver, he had gotten an ID, a copy of his birth certificate and a ride to Tallahassee to claim the prize. He took it as a lump-sum payout — $403,288.
In barely four weeks, Ramsey blew through more than half the money, with little of value to show for it. He says he wanted the cash, but by taking it all he is in danger of losing the government benefits he has relied on to survive.
Judge Lauren Laughlin, who monitors Ramsey’s guardianship, sees another problem: Why was there nothing to keep the Florida Lottery from handing over thousands of dollars to someone that a court found incapable of caring for himself?
“You clearly can’t be giving this kind of money to people who have had the right to manage their own financial affairs removed,” Laughlin says. “You would like it to be a Forrest Gump time, good for you, but not with $170,000 walking out the door in 30 days.”
As an investigator would later learn, Ramsey cashed 21 of the money orders on a single day, Nov. 6. Almost every other day after that, he cashed multiple money orders, including the big shopping day of Black Friday, Nov. 29, when he got $8,000 and bought flat-screen TVs at Walmart.
With Springer or one of his sisters driving, Ramsey also went to Tyrone Square Mall, the Ellenton outlet mall and the Wagon Wheel Flea Market, buying so many new clothes he had to get several plastic bins to hold them all. He also loaded up on $19.95 Timex watches for everyone in his family. “About 40 watches, I guess,” he says.
It was the sudden appearance of Ramsey’s relatives at Loving Care that prompted the facility to contact his guardian in mid November.
“It was people who were around that had never been around before,” says Lona DiCerb, director of operations at Aging Solutions, the nonprofit then in charge of Ramsey’s care. “That’s troublesome when family he’d never spoke of prior began coming around.”
Ramsey has little to say about his lottery windfall except: “They took my money.” He doesn’t think he has a guardian, doesn’t understand that the judge was trying to help him.
It’s one thing for strangers to be ain’t isht but your family should at least be worth a damn!