Friday, July 28, 2000

Powerball winner owes child support, faces DUI

By Jim Hannah
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        The Florence man who won a $65.4 million Powerball drawing says he will be moving to Australia, but he'll have to make a couple of stops in court first. And he might have to leave some of his winnings behind.

        Kentucky Lottery officials were ready to clear Mack Wayne Metcalf to receive his winnings when they got a call Thursday morning from the Kenton County Attorney's Office notifying them that Mr. Metcalf owes $31,000 in child support.

        Mr. Metcalf has been behind in support payments for his daughter from his first marriage since 1986, said Kenton County Attorney Garry Edmondson.

        Mr. Metcalf also has some unfinished business with Boone County District Court, where the 42-year-old forklift driver turned multimillionaire is facing a DUI charge.

        He is accused of driving without a license but with a blood-alcohol level of 0.265 — more than three times the current legal limit — and of leaving the scene of an accident on June 19.

        A pretrial hearing is set for Aug. 8. If convicted, Mr. Metcalf might have to delay his foreign adventure for jail time.

        Mr. Metcalf could not be reached for comment Thursday.

        He bought the only winning ticket for last weekend's drawing and came forward to claim the winnings in Louisville on Wednesday. He and his current wife, Virginia Metcalf Merida, opted for the cash option — $34.1 million now rather than the $65 million over 20 years — and agreed to split it 60-40.

        Mr. Metcalf and Ms. Merida, who lives in Dayton, Ky., have been married 14 years but live apart.

        The Kenton County Attorney's Office might never have learned Mr. Metcalf had won the lottery had it not been for an alert child-support case worker who was staying home to prepare to deliver twins.

        Lori Sims was watching TV when she heard Mr. Metcalf's name in connection with winning the Powerball drawing. She remembered

        that he owed child support and informed her office.

        After confirming that Mr. Metcalf indeed owed thousands, officials from the Kenton County Attorney's Office called Mr. Metcalf's ex-wife, Marilyn Starks, 33, of Corbin, Ky.

        “You would have thought she won the lottery when she heard the news,” said Deborah Tweddell, child support supervisor for the county.

        “She returned my call from where she works, Buddy's Bar-B-Q in Corbin. I could hear all her co-workers cheering in the background. I told her to calm down and not have a wreck getting here.”

        Ms. Starks was expected to travel to Covington this morning to begin the process of collecting the money.

        According to allegations in a divorce petition Ms. Starks filed, Mr. Metcalf kicked her and their tiny daughter out of the family home in Erlanger one day before Christmas in 1986.

        At the time, Mr. Metcalf had alcohol and substance abuse problems, Ms. Starks claimed in her divorce petition, and she feared for her life. Ms. Starks, 18 at the time, moved in with her mother. Her daughter is now 15.

        Until he won the Powerball, Mr. Metcalf had worked 21/2 years at Johnson Controls Inc. in Florence. He made some child support payments over the years but had never caught up.

        Ms. Starks couldn't be reached for comment Thursday.

        Mr. Metcalf's past debts at first evaded lottery officials' detection because the Florence man gave the Lottery a false Social Security number, according to Mr. Edmondson. But lottery officials deny they were given any false information. Howard Kline, the lottery's chief financial officer, declined further comment.

        Ms. Tweddell, the support supervisor, said she will petition to increase the child support payments because they are to be based, in part, on what Mr. Met calf is worth.

        He is required to support to his daughter until she turns 18.

        Mr. Edmondson, the county attorney, has requested that federal officials prevent Mr. Metcalf from leaving the country. Mr. Metcalf told lottery officials Wednesday he planned to move to Australia.

        But the county attorney wants to set up an escrow account to hold all the funds Mr. Metcalf's daughter is entitled to, and that would be easier with Mr. Metcalf stateside, “so we won't have to be trying to chase him around the world,” Mr. Edmondson said.

        But it's not just back child support that could spoil the big winner's plans.

        If Mr. Metcalf is convicted of drunken driving with a blood-alcohol level exceeding 0.18, he faces mandatory jail time of at least seven days and from 20 hours to a year of outpatient, inpatient or lock-down alcohol treatment, officials at the Boone County District Court said.


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