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Berkeley County magistrate wins Powerball jackpot

August 23, 2010|By MATTHEW UMSTEAD

MARTINSBURG, W.Va. -- For about two hours, Berkeley County Magistrate W. Randy Smith believed he had come close, but that he didn't win Saturday's $79 million Powerball jackpot.

On call Sunday morning at the Berkeley County Judicial Center to hold arraignment hearings, Smith asked his assistant, Mary D. Angelo, to look at the ticket that he bought from the ROCS store at 39 Kelly Island Road near Martinsburg.

The ticket matched the winning numbers of 7, 10, 12, 22, 27 and the Powerball 26. Smith said the computer picked his numbers.

"I had $80 million in my hand," Angelo said smiling. "Stupid me gave it back."

After realizing his numbers matched those drawn, Smith left the judicial center quite shaken. Magistrate JoAnn Overington, who happened to be there, agreed to fill in for him, Angelo said.

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"It's crazy. It's just crazy," Angelo said. "It didn't hit me till (Sunday) night."

Smith, 63, of Martinsburg, said that when the ROCS store clerks reviewed the video tapes to see who had bought the winning ticket, they looked at the wrong time and mistakenly believed another man had won.

Smith opted for the $44 million cash option when claiming his prize Monday in Charleston, W.Va. After subtracting about $2.9 million in state taxes and more than $11 million in federal taxes from his winnings, Smith said he is pocketing about $30 million.

Roach Energy, the corporate owner of area ROCS stores, received a $100,000 bonus for selling the winning ticket, according to state lottery officials.

Kevin Murphy, spokesman for Roach Energy, said the company plans to donate all of the $100,000 to various charitable and civic organizations in the Eastern Panhandle.

The decision was reached by the owners as a way to give back to the community and support the good works of all the charitable organizations, Murphy said.

"I'm going to try to enjoy the rest of my life with my family," Smith said in an interview from a hotel in Charleston, where he checked in after attending a press conference held by the West Virginia Lottery Commission.

Gov. Joe Manchin and Lottery Director John Musgrave were among those on hand to congratulate Smith. Manchin said he's known Smith for years.

"He truly is one of the good guys," Manchin said. "He's always going out of his way to help people. He's always been compassionate about somebody who's in trouble or down on their luck."

The winning ticket was one of three that Smith bought at ROCS. He said he also has been playing the lottery with a pool of other county magistrates and staff, and also played in a Circuit Court pool.

Smith, who was the Berkeley County sheriff for eight years, said he buys tickets every morning before work.

Magistrate Joan V. Bragg, who has known Smith for at least 25 years, filled in for him Sunday evening.

"It's unbelievable. Randy's a good person. He's done a lot for people that most people don't know anything about. He deserves it," Bragg said.

"He (was) always telling me, 'When I win the lottery ...' and he did," Bragg said.

Smith said he plans to resign as magistrate, but vowed to continue to fulfill his obligations until a replacement is appointed by 23rd Judicial Circuit Judge David H. Sanders.

With his winnings, Smith said he plans to replace his 10-year-old truck, which has more than 170,000 miles on it, and provide for his family, including his sister, who is disabled.

Smith said he always has promised a friend who is disabled, and who routinely checks the lottery numbers for him, a share of the winnings if one of the tickets proved a winner.

"I'll make sure he's taken care of," Smith said from Charleston.

Smith said he hoped his career in politics and law enforcement would help him to avoid pitfalls that befell West Virginian Jack Whittaker, who won a nearly $315 million Powerball jackpot in December 2002.

Whittaker, a self-made millionaire long before his win, has been embroiled in scandals, lawsuits and personal setbacks since.

The Associated Press contributed to this story.

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