Exactly one year ago, a Bakersfield woman won a Mega Millions jackpot worth $51 million.
One year later, she says she has seen very little of that money, claiming her son has taken control of the money and won’t grant her access to it.
Now, Etta May Urquhart has filed a lawsuit against her son, Ronnie Orender, claiming he took possession of what, she says, are her winnings.
So far, she’s obtained an injunction against her son that freezes the money while the case to determine who has the rights to it, goes forward.
Last year, Etta May, as she’s referred to in court documents, and Orender were seen happily together at a press event after they won the jackpot.
According to those court documents, Etta May was the one who bought the winning lottery ticket. But, when she went to sign paperwork to claim the winnings she was so nervous and shaky, she couldn’t do it.
So, she had Orender sign on her behalf. He allegedly told Etta May that he would still allow her to spend the money the way she wanted to, which included helping various family members with things like mortgage payments.
Since then, however, Etta May claims he’s spent the money how he wants to, buying at least ten vehicles and $2.3 million in property.
Additionally, according to court records, the two had a fight in August 2011 over the money after Orender refused to help a relative that Etta May asked him to aid.
17 News could not reach Orender’s attorney Friday afternoon.
Also, a representative at Moneywise, Inc., the Bakersfield financial firm handling the winnings, said no one was available for comment. The firm is also listed as a defendant in the case against Orender.
Etta May’s attorney told 17 News his client feels the whole incident has ruined her relationship with her son.
"She said, ‘This isn't Ronnie. What's happened? This is not [my] son,’” said Barry Goldner, attorney for Etta May. “And, hopefully we can get through this thing and at some point restore what was previously there."
According to court documents, Ronnie Orender has provided his mother with $125,000 in cash in addition to a car and a new home. That home is still in Orender’s name, however.