FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. (CN) - A financially struggling Florida couple claims in court they struck it big in the lottery, only to have their winnings stolen by a consultant they hired to help them avoid eviction from their home.
Rodolfo and Maria Rodriguez say their family's home of 20 years was foreclosed and they were drowning in debt, when they secured a "heaven-sent" lottery win in Dec. 2015.
But the couple's good fortune was short-lived, according to their lawsuit in Broward County court.
The Rodriguezes say their foreclosure consultant, Peter Cornelius Carey, lured them into handing him $150,000 of their $182,000 in net lottery winnings. He told them that the funds could be used to show the foreclosing party, US Bank, that they could afford a "buyback" of their home, the lawsuit alleges.
The couple, who had been working with Carey for several months and had already paid him $15,000 for purported foreclosure-rescue services, trusted the man to hold the lottery money and use it to facilitate the home buyback, according to the lawsuit. They signed an "investment agreement" with Carey's company Globality Partners, which broadly stated that "Globality will invest [the] monies in various projects to be determined," and that "the funds invested will remain in Escrow with Globality for no longer than 12 months," the lawsuit alleges.
In Sept. 2016, the couple was hit with an eviction notice from the Miami-Dade police department, which gave them 24 hours to vacate their property, where they resided with their three children and two other family members.
They say they met with Carey at his business, an insurance sales office in Fort Lauderdale, and pressed him about where their lottery money had gone.
"Carey was non-responsive to such inquiry, but continued to assure and reassure the plaintiffs ... that everything would work out," the Oct. 25 lawsuit states. "At one point, the defendant Carey told plaintiff Rodolfo Rodriguez that his monies had been invested, but [Carey] did not elaborate as to where or when and why it was not used to effectuate the buyback."
The Rodriguezes and their current counsel at Alvarez Trial Law were able to get a 30-day extension on an emergency motion to strike the writ of possession underlying the eviction.
Before Alvarez Trial Law took over, Carey had allegedly provided the Rodriguez family with a pre-written motion to strike and had directed them to file it pro se, without counsel.
Courthouse News attempted to reach out to Carey at his office, but the agent answering his business line said he was out of town.
Rashida Overby, a South Florida attorney listed as a defendant in the case, declined to comment, citing non-disclosure agreements between the parties.
According to the complaint, Overby had been working for the foreclosing bank, when Maria Rodriguez approached her on the way out of an August 2015 hearing, pleading with her to stop the foreclosure of the Rodriguez family's home.
The lawsuit claims it was Overby who referred the Rodriguez family to Carey. According to the complaint, she advised them that Carey was her longtime associate and could help them avoid being booted of the property.
The Rodriguezes say they were also led to believe Overby was "on board" with the buyback and would help the family stay in the home.
In the initial meetings, months before the Rodriguezes won the lottery, Carey allegedly told them that in exchange for consulting fees along with a quitclaim deed in the name of Globality Partners he could save them from eviction. The lawsuit claims he gave the Rodriguez couple "Rubbing Angels" to "assure them that everything would work out."
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