Powerball winner sues condo sellers
BY JOHN O'BRIEN
CHARLESTON - Powerball winner Jack Whittaker is suing two women and their business over a group of condominiums he purchased from them.
Whittaker Limited Liability Company filed the lawsuit May 30 in Kanawha Circuit Court against Crystal Tincher, Mary Anderson and Fun, LLC.
Whittaker says he purchased the 26 condominiums in Nitro known as Riverview because Tincher and Anderson misrepresented the profitability of them.
According to the lawsuit filed through Charles R. Hughes of Charleston's Daniels Law Firm, one woman, Julie Barthelmess, had entered into 18 land sale contracts with Fun and was operating those condos.
It says Barthelmess' intention was to have the condos refinanced, but she was unable to make her monthly payments before that could happen.
Several of the occupants, Whittaker says, were not paying their rent on time. He adds that the condos had an above-average tenant-turnover rate.
Whittaker purchased the condos from Fun in July 2004 and was not informed of Barthelmess' financial problems, which eventually led to her filing for bankruptcy.
Whittaker says he purchased the condos for $976,850 and seeks a cancellation of the contract and a full refund, as well as punitive damages.
He says he was told the condos would generate $6 million over the next 30 years, but found that not to be the case once he purchased them. He says Barthelmess, a psychotherapist, should not have been trusted with so much financial responsibility.
"Tincher represented to Anderson and Fun that Barthelmess had the knowledge and the finances necessary to operate and maintain the Riverview units," the complaint says.
"All Riverview units financed by Fun, including those financed by Barthelmess, were done so without due diligence and credit checks or reviews by Fun or Barthelmess.
Making Whittaker's ownership even more troublesome, he says, was the fact that Barthelmess, by operating 18 of the 26 condos, held the majority vote for all issues presented before the Riverview Homeowners Association, keeping Whittaker from managing the association and properties.
Whittaker charges the defendants with breach of contract, intentional misrepresentation, fraud and deceit, conspiracy to commit fraud, negligent representation and unjust enrichment.
In 2002, Whittaker won the single-largest lottery payout of $315 million with a cash option of more than $113 million.
But since then, he's had several run-ins the law. He was charged with DUI in Kanawha County in January 2004 after he was found sleeping in his vehicle along Interstate 64 in Nitro. Kanawha Magistrate Tim Halloran later suppressed sobriety test results, causing the case to be dropped.
Later that year, Whittaker was charged with -- and later pleaded no contest to -- assaulting a bar manager in Putnam County. He was put on two years probation and ordered to attend Alcoholics Anonymous meetings.
Earlier this year, two Summers County women filed a federal civil suit accusing Whittaker of assault and battery, groping them, threatening to kill one of their friends and illegally firing a gun.
Judge Paul Zakaib has been assigned the case.
Kanawha Circuit Court case number 06-C-1021