Homeless man waiting for return of stolen millions
František Václavek is a homeless man in the Czech Republic who will be spending this Christmas, as many before it, in a shelter. It needn’t have been the case. Four years ago, Václavek won 30 million crowns with a single lottery ticket. But he was wheedled out of it by a couple who used the winnings to buy a luxury home in Prague. A court later sent them to prison but Václavek is still waiting for what is rightfully his.
An appeals court this August confirmed Václavek’s right to the funds and increased the prison sentences for the fraudsters from five years to six. The seizure and sale of property and other assets have since been ordered, but now depend on a 30-day appeals process. In short, the return of what the homeless man is owed will take some time yet. Petra Báčová is the spokeswoman for the Chamber of Distraint Officers:
“The order to seize property which has been issued has not yet come into effect – no steps can be taken yet. Basically, the debtors have 30 days to pay off what they owe.”
In the past, Mr Václavek expressed the desire to buy property of his own, to have his teeth fixed, go on vacation and to start his own business. There, experts are wary: the lottery winner – once he receives his money – may again be in danger of losing his new-found wealth. During trial, a psychologist called in as an expert witness evaluated Mr Václavek as suffering from a mild form of retardation: he warned that the homeless man could – under certain circumstances – react like a child, be submissive and overly-trustworthy, unable to hold his own against dominant personality types, in other words those who would manipulate him for their own benefit.