An undocumented immigrant who lives Hyattsville is going public trying to claim a lottery prize he says a trusted coworker stole.
Ramon Ortiz said two years ago he bought a $20 Maryland scratch-off lottery ticket with a $1 million jackpot.
Ortiz doesn't speak English and he does not have a Social Security number, so he couldn't claim the prize himself.
Ortiz said he asked a documented, English-speaking coworker to claim the $450,000 payout.
"I never thought anything bad would happen," Ortiz told News4's Richard Jordan in his native language.
She claimed the prize, but kept it for herself, he said. Ortiz is now suing her.
"The defendant walked away with the check and the money," said Ortiz's attorney, Milt Theologou. "All my client got was a T-shirt and a hat."
The coworker's attorney insists his client did not take anyone's money. Defense attorney Isaac Klein said there was a "confidential agreement" between the two. However, the defense would not discuss the details of that agreement with News4.
"He is making certain allegations that we are emphatically and categorically denying and will try our case in court," Klein added.
Ortiz insists he didn't have an agreement with her.
"I called her and asked, 'Can you do me a favor?' " Ortiz said. "She said, 'OK.' I said, 'Since I know I can't speak English, I don't have my papers. I don't have anything. That's why I ask.' ... She said, 'That's fine.' "
Ortiz said he would have sent that money back to his children in Guatemala. That's on hold as the case plays out in court.
Ortiz said he and the coworker still work at the same place and see each other regularly.
"I don't talk to her and she doesn't talk to me," Ortiz said. "She just looks at me, and I'm there, quietly."
But why would Ortiz trust someone with so much money? He said he's done it before. A few years ago he won $3,000, and had a different friend cash it in. He said that time everything went as planned.