Nothing, it’s been said, comes between sisters. Unless it’s half a million dollars.
For years, Theresa Sokaitis and Rose Bakaysa were the closest of siblings, whiling away long hours over card tables and slot machines, and sharing countless lottery tickets. They always played the same numbers. If one won, they both did. All pots were split 50-50.
Now, in a bitter family feud that seems ripped from a Hollywood script, the elderly widows are locked in a protracted legal battle over a $500,000 lottery jackpot, with Sokaitis saying she is rightfully owed a share of the winnings.
Yesterday, the two faced off in New Britain Superior Court, with testimony focusing on whether a notarized, decade-old compact between the sisters to share any gambling proceeds was in effect when their longtime lottery numbers came in.
In 2005, Bakaysa, an 87-year-old from Plainville, Conn., won the Powerball prize with her brother, Joseph F. Troy Sr. Sokaitis, an 84-year-old from Middletown, quickly sued for breach of contract, saying her sister had violated their agreement to split all gambling proceeds equally.
The contract, dated April 12, 1995, stated, “We are partners in any winning we shall receive. (Such as slot machines, cards, at Foxwoods Casino, and tickets, etc.).’’
The sisters, who had gambled together for years — going to Foxwoods as often as three times a week and buying a profusion of lottery tickets — drew up the deal after winning $165,000 at a casino. The printed, single-page document included their names, Social Security numbers, and signatures, and was notarized by an accountant.
But about a year before the winning lottery draw, the sisters had a fight over a loan of some $250 that one had made to the other. The fight became a bitter split. And Bakaysa’s lawyer, William Sweeney of Connecticut, contends the feuding sisters nullified their agreement to split winnings.