Edmonton

$50M lotto winner's legal battle with Edmonton entrepreneur could be over

A cross-border legal battle between an Alberta man who won a $50-million lottery jackpot and an Edmonton entrepreneur appears to be moving toward a resolution.

'It's been a very, very nasty ride,' said Jeremy Crawford who is being sued by lottery winner Randall Rush.

$50 million winner Randall Rush said he and Jeremy Crawford are resolving their differences. (Western Canadian Lottery Corporation )

A cross-border legal battle between an Alberta man who won a $50-million lottery jackpot and an Edmonton entrepreneur appears to be moving toward a resolution.

"Mr. Crawford and I are in the process of resolving our differences," lottery winner Randall Rush wrote in a brief statement to CBC News, referencing a U.S. lawsuit in Arizona.

I just went through one of the nastiest lawsuits that I've ever experienced in my life.'- Jeremy Crawford

In November, Rush sued Kult Labs, a startup mobile app company, and its Edmonton-area owner Jeremy Crawford, seeking damages of not less than $4.5-million. Four months later, Rush began similar legal action in Canada.
Former business partners Randall Rush and Jeremy Crawford. (Jeremy Crawford)

"Approximately three weeks ago we gave up the fight and settled," Crawford wrote in an emailed statement to CBC.

In the U.S action, filed with the Superior Court in Arizona's Maricopa County, Rush accused Crawford of fraud, misrepresentation, unjust enrichment and acting "with an evil mind."

In his response to the action, Crawford denied the allegations but admitted Rush purchased shares in Kult Labs from his personal holdings and now owns 10 per cent of the company.

"It's been a very, very nasty ride," Crawford said in an Aug. 29 video posted on Facebook in which he opens up about the lawsuit.

"One of my dad's former friend's had won the lottery," Crawford said in the video post. "He invested a large amount in the company. And we were able to get the app completed."

'He shut us down'

Crawford also said that shortly after the mobile app's launch, he had "a falling out" with the investor who sued him.

"And, long story short, within a few weeks there was a receiver appointed and he shut us down," Crawford continued.

In February 2015, Rush's life changed dramatically when he stopped in at a Lamont, Alta. grocery store to buy food for his cat Conway Kitty. He discovered he had hit the jackpot.

Two months later Rush began investing in Kult Labs. He sank nearly 10 per cent of his winnings into Crawford's company.

Documents show Rush said his decision to invest was based on Crawford's claim that Kult was poised to be a multi-billion dollar company and the next Amazon.com, already valued in excess of $100 million. Crawford denied the allegation.

Less than a year later, the relationship between the business partners fell apart and Rush launched his U.S. lawsuit.
Documents show Jeremy Crawford mortgaged this Arizona office building, violating a court-imposed order. (Jeremy Crawford)

As the court battle played out in Arizona, documents show Crawford mortgaged an office building, violating a court-imposed order that had frozen disputed assets including an Audi R8 sports car and a luxury home.

A U.S. judge found Crawford in contempt and ordered him to pay back the mortgage loan plus a $10,000 daily fine until then. 

Crawford asked the court to reconsider due to his dire financial situation. The judge denied his motion, criticizing Crawford for testimony "completely lacking in credibility" and leading "an incredibly lavish lifestyle." 

In June, the judge threatened Crawford with a civil arrest warrant if he didn't pay $200,000 US to the court by June 21.

"We had no choice but to finally settle with Rush and give him what he wanted," Crawford told CBC, noting the fines were adding up. "I guess it's just one big nightmare I just want to wake up from."
Jeremy Crawford's webpage.

Petty fraud 

It's not the first time Crawford has owed money to the court or faced fraud allegations.

According to Canadian federal court documents, Crawford owed $85,909.05 in income tax in 2013. The court issued an order, directing the Sheriff of Alberta to seize and sell Crawford's property.

In 2004, Crawford pleaded guilty to defrauding the Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce.

He received a suspended sentence and 18 months probation. He was ordered to report to a probation officer, pay $3,850 in restitution to the bank, complete 50 hours of community service and remain in Alberta.

Three years earlier, Crawford pleaded guilty to defrauding an Edmonton-area IKEA of a merchandise under $5,000. He was ordered to pay a fine of $500.

The same year, Crawford pleaded guilty to one count of theft for stealing someone's laptop computer. He received a $250 fine.

Bad decisions

"I was very young in business and made some bad decisions," Crawford told CBC. "I also wrote a couple of bad cheques and never dealt with the issues."

He blamed the money he owed in income tax on the actions of a former business partner.

Last week, Crawford talked about the lawsuit in another online video.

"I just went through one of the nastiest lawsuits that I've ever experienced in my life," Crawford tells viewers. "I sat around for six, seven, eight months feeling sorry for myself when I had these other products I could have just started working on immediately."

The video is for a new Crawford venture aimed at entrepreneurs.

He calls it NoBullBiz.

@andreahuncar          andrea.huncar@cbc.ca

About the Author

Andrea Huncar

Reporter

Andrea Huncar reports on human rights, immigrant and Indigenous communities, youth at-risk and the justice system. Contact her in confidence at andrea.huncar@cbc.ca

now