Alberta $50M lottery winner scores victory against Jeremy Crawford in U.S. court
Edmonton-area businessman found ‘lacking in credibility’ and ordered to repay $200,000 by U.S. judge
An Arizona judge says testimony given by an Edmonton-area man being sued by a $50-million lottery winner from Lamont, Alta. "is completely lacking in credibility."
Last Wednesday's ruling in the Superior Court of Arizona Maricopa County upheld a previous decision finding Jeremy Crawford in contempt and owing nearly $1.3 million in unpaid fines and an illegal loan, according to documents obtained by CBC News.
Judge Christopher Whitten said Crawford hid information from his own attorney, who lost trust in his client to the point that he secretly recorded their phone conversation.
Whitten rejected Crawford's motion asking that the contempt order be reconsidered due to Crawford's "dire financial situation."
Crawford led 'incredibly lavish lifestyle'
The judge said evidence showed Crawford was leading "an incredibly lavish lifestyle."
Whitten said while he was considering the contempt motion, Crawford took extended family members to Disneyland, paying for all of their airfare and expenses. After that, he took them skiiing in Canada, said Whitten, leasing a vehicle for the trip.
The court has ordered Crawford return $200,000 "which was illegally taken" by mortgaging a property and, until then, pay a daily fine of $10,000.
Crawford and his company Kult Labs are at the centre of a lawsuit launched last month by multi-million-dollar lottery winner Randall Rush, of Lamont.
A year earlier, Rush took a trip to a grocery store to buy food for his cat Conway Kitty, and discovered he had won $50 million.
In a statement of claim filed last month in Alberta, Rush said he invested more than $4.6 million of his winnings in Kult Labs, and that he was "induced" by representations made "fraudulently, deliberately, or recklessly, having no regard to their truth or accuracy."
The lawsuit also accuses Crawford of failing to register assets in exchange for Rush's investment, including an Audi R8 luxury sports car, a modest Sherwood Park home, and a palatial residence and an office building in Arizona.
Crawford has not yet filed a statement of defence in the lawsuit and none of the allegations have been proven in court.
On Nov. 25, 2015, an Arizona court granted a temporary restraining order to Rush. The order prevents Crawford from selling, transferring or borrowing against any of those listed properties or the Audi, as well as two Porsches, a Ferrari, and a Harley Davidson Night Train.
But after it was imposed, court testimony shows Crawford took out a $200,000 private mortgage against the Arizona office building. Prior to the order he had already sold the Ferrari and Audi.
'Clearly violated' restraining order, says judge
In his testimony, Crawford admitted "to actions which clearly violated" the restraining order, according to the court ruling documents. He claimed he only learned of the order two weeks afterwards, and did not understand it prevented him from selling or encumbering the property.
In his ruling, Whitten said Crawford's testimony is "completely lacking in credibility and is contradicted by a huge mountain of other evidence."
Among that evidence, the judge said two weeks after the restraining order was issued, Crawford's lawyer asked him if he had taken out a mortgage on his residence. Crawford said no but "hid the fact that he had encumbered the other (office) property from his own attorney."
Lawyer secretly recorded conversation
The judge said less than a week later, Crawford's lawyer surreptitiously recorded their conversation because he "no longer trusted Mr. Crawford" and was "justifiably concerned by the fact that he had, on multiple occasions, made representations to counsel and the Court that turned out to be false."
During that recorded call in mid-December, Crawford confirmed to his lawyer that right after court imposed the restraining order, they went through the restricted assets. Crawford also admitted taking out a loan on the property after the order was discussed.
He said Crawford's lawyer explained to him the order restrictions in detail on multiple occasions. He described Crawford's "pretend surprise" about the effect of the order as "unbelievable" and "fiction."
"This feigned ignorance is in direct contradiction to Mr. Crawford's admission that he did not tell (his lawyer) about the December 7, 2015 loan and lien when they spoke on December 10, 2015 because he knew, at that time, then that it violated the TRO," writes Whitten, referring to the temporary restraining order..
On his personal website, TheJerCraw.com, Crawford says he got his start in sales at City Ford in St. Albert and is "the founding publisher of Edmonton Style Magazine, Calgary Living Magazine, Alberta Oil Magazine and Toronto Elite Magazine."
He says he has spoken in front of thousands of people across Canada and the United States. With the release of his new book coming in December, "he has a message to help people fight through their challenging seasons of life," the website says.
The judge said when the $200,000 is repaid the court may entertain the motion to reduce the daily fine.