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Officially, It Was a Big Lotto Win

Times Staff Writer

The California Lottery struck big in Orange County over the weekend, showering $247,320 on a 14-member pool run out of the office of county Supervisor Don R. Roth.

The pool included Roth and two other local elected officials, and state lottery officials said they believe it is the first time elected officials have won such a large prize. The pool picked five of the six correct numbers, plus the bonus number.

“I think it equals being struck by lightning,” said Roth, who was in Montreal on Monday attending a convention of the American Public Transit Assn.

In addition to Roth, the pool included several high-profile public and political names. Not all the shares are equal, but most of the winners are expected to pocket $19,000 before taxes.

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The winners include two school district presidents and a school district trustee, a top county political consultant, the director of the Orange County Transportation Commission, four lobbyists who represent major corporations, and a newspaper reporter.

Since March, each member has contributed $4 a week, enough so the group could bet on 26 sets of numbers in every Saturday and Wednesday drawing. They have bet on the same numbers ever since May.

Dan Wooldridge, an executive assistant to Roth, has regularly purchased the tickets. Saturday, he said he missed the televised number drawing and didn’t see the winning numbers until Sunday morning.

“I couldn’t believe it,” he said when he saw the winning match. “I thought this couldn’t happen, it’s ridiculous.”

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Wooldridge said he began calling each of the participants at home, but the task was made difficult by his reputation as a practical joker. There were a lot of doubters.

“They wouldn’t believe me because we have a reputation for stinging people,” he said. “I just said, ‘This is real! Believe me. This is real!’ ”

Russ Barrios, also an aide to Roth and president of the Orange Unified School District Board of Trustees, came into the office and said, “Education has been very good to me,” noting that lottery funds are used to pay for schools. Barrios said he was planning to use the money for a European vacation with his wife and two daughters.

The other winners included two clerical staff workers in Roth’s office; OCTC director Stan Oftelie; reporter John Needham of The Times Orange County Edition; political consultant Harvey Englander, whose wife is also on the Orange school district’s board of trustees; Roth aides Steven Malone and Tom Daly, who is also president of the Anaheim Union High School District; and lobbyists Frank Michelena, Lyle Overby, Bert Ashland and Irwin Schatzman.

A Kern County lotto player won the $11.5-million weekend jackpot by picking the six winning numbers, California Lottery officials say.


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