Alleged theft is the latest in a long line of troubles for Jack Whittaker

By Tim Nudd
Updated July 27, 2007 11:15 AM

It seemed as though Jack Whittaker’s dreams had come true on Christmas Day in 2002, when he won what was then the largest undivided lottery prize in U.S. history. Instead, the years since he won $324.9 million – which he took in a lump sum of $113 million after taxes – have mostly been a nightmare.

Whittaker’s saga took a new turn this week, as an arrest warrant was issued for a Kentucky man who allegedly emptied one of Whittaker’s bank accounts by cashing counterfeit versions of his business checks, according to the Associated Press.

The suspect, Toby Nelson, 31, of Greenup, Ky., faces charges of false pretenses, counterfeiting and forgery, police said. Nelson allegedly stole some $49,070 from Whittaker.

Nelson remains at large. A company owned by Whittaker has also filed suit against City National bank for cashing the phony checks. City National says it was not negligible in doing so.

Whittaker says the theft leaves him unable to pay the settlement in a recent case in which he was accused of assaulting a woman at a casino in West Virginia.

In 2002, Whittaker, then 55 and a wealthy contractor, bought a Powerball ticket at the C&L Super Serve in Hurricane, W. Va. that won him his millions. Though he started out by donating some of his money to charity, which helped renovate a Little League park and buy playground equipment, it was mostly downhill from there.

In the years since, Whittaker has been sued for bouncing checks in at Atlantic City, N.J., casinos, arrested on drunken driving charges, ordered into rehab and repeatedly burglarized. His granddaughter died of a drug overdose in 2005, and he was sued by the father of an 18-year-old boy, a friend of his granddaughter’s, who also overdosed and was found dead in Whittaker’s house.

Those problems overshadowed his charitable contributions, which also included funding three churches.