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Upstate SC store owner who sold $1.5 billion MegaMillions ticket charged with tax evasion

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Jackpot Mystery

South Carolina Education Lottery Chief Operating Officer Tony Cooper (left) and KC Mart owner CJ Patel speak to reporters about the winning ticket sold at the Simpsonville store on Oct. 24, 2018. File/AP

GREENVILLE — An Upstate convenience store owner credited with selling the winning ticket for the largest lottery payout ever in South Carolina has been charged with tax evasion.

The state Department of Revenue said March 12 that 49-year-old convenience store chain owner Chirag Jayanti Patel failed to report a little more than $2 million in sales over a five-year period.

The inaccurate tax claims from 2013 to 2017 allowed him to evade $123,044 in sales tax, according to arrest warrants alleging five counts of tax evasion.

The tax-evasion claims came before the sale of the $1.5 billion MegaMillions winning lottery ticket at one of Patel's KC Mart stores in Simpsonville.

In March 2019, when the anonymous woman claimed her prize in one lump-sum payment of $877.8 million six months after the drawing, Patel stood before the media and described how he would use the $50,000 commission earned from the sale to renovate his store.

Legal drama has surrounded the claiming of the MegaMillions jackpot.

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Last August, the New York attorney who represented the woman was indicted on federal charges that he stole tens of millions from multiple winnings he was entrusted to invest. 

Jason Kurland stole $107 million from three winners, prosecutors said in a court filing last summer. Kurland dubbed himself the "Lottery Lawyer" and claimed to represent the interests of dozens of lottery winners with total winnings of $3 billion.

The most, $70 million, came from the Simpsonville winner, prosecutors said.

The scheme involved mob ties, lavish expenses and the sale of personal protection equipment to the state of California during the coronavirus outbreak last spring, all while the Simpsonville winner believed proceeds would be donated to charity, prosecutors said.

Follow Eric on Twitter at @cericconnor.

Reporter/Local Editor

Eric is a reporter and local editor for The Post and Courier in Greenville. Previously with The Greenville News, he's covered the Upstate for two decades and served as a USA TODAY correspondent. He studied journalism at the University of South Carolina.

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