BRUNSWICK COUNTY, N.C. (WECT) - A Brunswick County woman who won a $188 million Powerball jackpot is being sued by her ex-fiancé after she allegedly gave away more than $1.4 million worth of cars, clothes, and property he claims were gifts she gave to him.
Marie Holmes chose to take the lump sum payment of $127 million in the February 2015 lottery drawing and was able to keep $88 million after paying taxes on her winnings. At the time she won, Holmes was living in Shallotte and dating Lamar McDow. According to a federal lawsuit McDow recently filed against Holmes, she bought a $250,000 house with her lottery winnings, and they lived there together for about a year.
McDow had been arrested on heroin trafficking charges just a few months prior to the lottery drawing and was out of jail on bail awaiting trial. A series of offenses violated his pretrial release agreement, sending McDow back to jail several times. Because of his access to the significant lottery winnings, McDow’s bond amounts were extremely high: $1 million after his first arrest, $6 million after his second arrest, and $12 million after his third. He got out every time, with Holmes paying an estimated $600,000 on bail bondsmen to post his bonds.
According to the lawsuit, the pair first met in 2012 when Holmes “was working at McDonald’s and living with her mother and three kids in a single-wide mobile home.” Over the course of their relationship, the couple had two children together. McDow’s lawsuit says Holmes shared her winnings with him generously, buying him a $250,000 modified Chevrolet Stingray, $100,000 worth of clothes and jewelry, and a $600,000 auto restoration business, along with other large purchases. While the titles for the Corvette and business are in Holmes’ name, McDow claims she purchased them for him.
In January 2016, McDow was preparing to spend seven years in prison after being convicted on the 2014 drug trafficking charges. He made Holmes, who was by that point his fiancée, his agent through a power of attorney.
“Mr. McDow authorized Ms. Holmes to store, maintain, and protect his real and personal property during his incarceration,” the lawsuit states.
Holmes gave birth to their second child while McDow was incarcerated. But in August of 2017, they ended their relationship, according to the lawsuit. Their contact became less frequent, and McDow eventually learned from a friend that Holmes was dating someone else.
In the months that followed, the lawsuit claims McDow learned Holmes had given away his clothes, sold his property, and closed his auto restoration business.
“Each unauthorized gift, conveyance, or transfer of Mr. McDow’s personal property was without his knowledge or consent and without consideration ceding to Mr. McDow... Ms. Holmes failed to act openly, fairly, and honestly by secretly giving away the items identified as Mr. McDow’s personal property,” the complaint reads.
McDow is demanding compensation for the assets he claims were his that Holmes got rid of, as well as punitive damages.
“Ms. Holmes unconditional obligation to act in the best interests of Mr. McDow didn’t stop because Ms. Holmes and Mr. McDow’s relationship ended,” the lawsuit continues.
According to court filings, Holmes’ official permanent residence is in Washington state. A private investigator was able to track her down to be served with the lawsuit in December when she apparently returned to Brunswick County to attend to some unrelated legal affairs.
WECT’s attempts to reach the attorneys representing Holmes and McDow were unsuccessful. McDow is scheduled to be released from prison in 2023.