Elderly sisters battle in court over jackpot

NEW BRITAIN, Conn. Blood may be thicker than water, but it's apparently no match for money, at least for these two sisters who made gambling a family affair. The women, who haven't spoken since in 2005, faced each other Tuesday in New Britain Superior Court.

Theresa Sokaitis, 84, is suing her 87-year-old sister, Rose Bakaysa, over what she claims is her share of a $500,000 winning Powerball ticket. Their brother bought the ticket back in 2005 and five years later, the sisters are fighting it out in court.

"I said 'I think we won some serious money.' She said, 'what you win, a $1,000?' I said, 'try half a million,'" their brother Joseph said on the stand.

The sisters used to gamble together three times a week and they also played the lottery together. They called themselves partners, playing the same numbers and sharing their winnings. After hitting a $165,000 jackpot 10 years ago, they even drew up a legal contract to split future winnings.

"Both parties agree that there's a valid contract and it was enforceable," said Sam Pollack, Sokaitis' attorney.

Sokaitis says Bakaysa violated the notarized contract. But Bakaysa says Sokaitis broke off the deal during a 2004 fight over a few hundred dollars. Sokaitis acknowledges they had a tiff, but believes the contract was still in place.

"The testimony that was offered that said that 'I'm not going to be your partner anymore' and somebody agreeing to that was that recension, so in fact the contract was rescinded," said William J. Sweeney, Bakaysa's attorney.

Shortly after that, Bakaysa said she and her brother Joseph Troy Sr. started gambling together. About a year later, a ticket he purchased using Bakaysa's numbers won $500,000.

Bakaysa gave $10,000 of her share to Sokaitis' daughter. When Sokaitis learned of it, she called her sister.

"I told her I felt I deserved a share of the money and she told me I wasn't going to get a dime," Sokaitis testified. "I said, 'I have a contract.' She said, 'I tore mine up.' I said, 'I didn't."'

Bakaysa said that since Troy bought the ticket, she couldn't have split it with her sister even if she wanted to.

New Britain Superior Court Judge Cynthia K. Swienton, who heard the case Tuesday, said she expects to issue her ruling in the next few months.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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