Woman who killed lottery winner supports keeping names private

GAINESVILLE, Fla. (AP) — A bill awaiting the governor’s signature that would temporarily keep the names of Florida lottery winners secret has at least one unexpected supporter: the woman jailed for murdering the winner of a payout $30 million lottery.

In a phone interview from behind bars, 49-year-old Dorice Donegan “Dee Dee” Moore of Tampa said public identification of recipients and details of large lottery payouts put their lives at risk.

“It puts a target on them,” Moore said. She is serving a life sentence at Lowell Correctional Facility in Ocala.

A jury convicted Moore in December 2012 of first-degree murder in the 2009 shooting death of 42-year-old Abraham Lee Shakespeare. .” She said she intended to pursue her legal challenges.

The Florida legislature bill would keep the names of lottery winners of $250,000 or more secret for 90 days, unless the winner wants to be identified publicly. The House passed it 114-1 and the Senate passed it 37-1 last month. Gov. Ron DeSantis was expected to sign it as early as this month.

During the House hearings, Rep. Tracie Davis, D-Jacksonville, cited media coverage of Florida and Georgia lottery winners who were killed after claiming their prizes.

“At some point in our lives, we all dream of winning the lottery,” said Davis, the bill’s sponsor. “Unfortunately for some people that dream of winning the lottery, sometimes those dreams become a nightmare.”

Sen. Tina Polsky, D-Boca Raton, said delaying the disclosure of a winner’s identity would give the winner time to put security measures in place. She sponsored a version of the bill in the Senate.

“Some winners endure all types of scams, harassment and even loss of life,” Polsky said. “The reason behind the 90 days is to give lottery winners enough time to plan responsibly, keeping family informed, getting financial advice and even investing funds.”

In Georgia, 20-year-old Craigory Burch was shot dead during a 2016 home invasion in front of his girlfriend and one of their children, months after winning $400,000. Georgia is now one of 10 states that allow lottery winners to remain anonymous.

In the case of Florida, Moore said he met Shakespeare on the pretext of writing a book about him. She later convinced him to let her help him financially manage what was left of his lottery winnings – Moore said at that time that he only had about $1 million left. According to trial evidence, Shakespeare spent much of his winnings paying off his family and friends’ mortgages and donating money to people who came to him for help.

Prosecutors said Moore withdrew $1 million from Shakespeare’s bank accounts, spending the money on a Hummer, Corvette, truck and vacation. Shakespeare, shot twice in the chest, was found buried under a concrete slab in the backyard of a house Moore had purchased. At the time of his death, the sheriff said the $30 million had been spent.

In his interview from prison, Moore said keeping the names of lottery winners secret even for 90 days was not long enough. She said details about whether a winner chose a lump sum payment or payments over time should also not be disclosed.

“I don’t think that’s enough time,” she said. “You have to understand, this person has to change his whole life.”

She said a lottery winner would need at least six months of privacy.

“Ninety days is nothing, you see how time flies,” said Moore, who has been in state prison for nearly 3,400 days.

Moore wrote in a letter to the court in 2019 that she regretted not telling the truth at her trial, but she continued to claim that she did not shoot Shakespeare. “I really didn’t kill him,” she wrote.

Under Florida law, the lottery agency immediately releases winners’ names, city of residence, game, date won and amount won to anyone who requests it. It does not disclose the winner’s home address or phone numbers, although such information can generally be discovered elsewhere, such as property records or voter registration files, which remain publicly available.

Florida bill would still allow names and details of lottery winners to be released to state agencies who may be in debt, courts to collect child support, government auditors or legislative leaders . Insiders who illegally disclose the names of lottery winners before they are cleared could be charged with a crime. Lawmakers would be required to reapprove the bill in 2027.

In the Senate, only Sen. Ray Rodrigues, R-Fort Myers, voted against the measure. In the House, Rep. Anthony Sabatini, R-Clermont, was the only lawmaker to vote against it.

“People want to know who won the lottery — a government-run, taxpayer-funded program,” Sabatini said.

The bill exempts the names of lottery winners from disclosure for 90 days under Florida public records law.

The law is considered one of the nation’s most powerful tools for government transparency, but lawmakers over the years have added more than 1,000 categories of government information that are prohibited from it.


This story was produced by Fresh Take Florida, a news service of the University of Florida College of Journalism and Communication. The reporter can be reached at [email protected]

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