Drug dealer wins lottery, can't keep it
BROWNSVILLE, Texas (AP) -- A convicted drug dealer rolled snake eyes Wednesday when an appeals court ruled he can't keep his lottery winnings because he bought the lucky ticket with drug proceeds.
Jose Luis Betancourt was convicted in May 2003 of conspiracy and two counts of possession with intent to distribute cocaine.
The jury had ruled then that Betancourt, a Mexican citizen, should forfeit half his interest in the lottery jackpot - about $5.5 million - because the ticket was purchased with his ill-gotten gains.
On Wednesday, a three-judge panel of the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals said federal law allows the government to seize all property and proceeds obtained from drug trafficking
"Mr. Betancourt's luck ran out, and appropriately so," said U.S. Attorney Chuck Rosenberg.
The appeals court also upheld Betancourt's drug trafficking conviction and his sentence of more than 24 years in prison.
The U.S. attorney's office did not immediately return a call late Wednesday about whether the funds had been forfeited during the appeals process.