Denise Rossi, the Long Beach woman who was ordered last month to turn over her entire $1.3-million California lottery winnings to her ex-husband, has filed for bankruptcy instead.
Her lawyer, Michael J. Berger, filed forms Dec. 3 with the U.S. Bankruptcy Court seeking Chapter 13 protection from Rossi's creditors. She must file additional court papers listing her assets and debts by Friday.
Rossi's failure to disclose her lottery winnings to her husband during their divorce prompted Superior Court Judge Richard Denner to order her to give him all her winnings.
She plans an appeal of the ruling, which her divorce lawyer, Connelly Oyler, described as very punitive.
According to court papers, Rossi, 49, participated in an office pool in December 1996, and won a share of a $6.6-million jackpot.
She filed for divorce 11 days later, ending her 25-year marriage to Thomas Rossi, a photographer.
Denise Rossi's share of the winnings was payable in 20 annual installments of $66,800. According to court papers, she asked the state to mail the checks to her mother's home in Northern California.
More than a year after the divorce, Thomas Rossi, 65, learned of her lottery windfall by accident. A solicitation from a company that pays lump sums for lottery winnings landed in his mailbox, addressed to him and his former wife.
He confirmed her winnings with the state Lottery Commission, then took her back to court.
She later claimed her share of the winning ticket was a gift from a co-worker. The judge didn't buy it. He found that she had defrauded her former spouse.
Had she disclosed her winnings, Thomas Rossi would have been entitled to half. After the divorce, he experienced financial troubles and was forced to give up his West Los Angeles shop when he filed for bankruptcy last year.