It’s hard to imagine this is even possible, but apparently Maureen O’Connor became addicted to gambling, won a BILLION dollars but ended up losing 13 million. The trouble was, it wasn’t all her money.
While nine million Americans have a serious problem with gambling, she one in a million as well as one order of fries short of a happy meal.
Mrs. O’Connor (66) is the widow of Robert Peterson. He founded the Jack in the Box fast food chain and made his fortune in the restaurant, hotel and banking industries. He died in 1994 at age 78.
She has done pretty good for herself too. Maureen served as mayor of San Diego, California from 1986 to 1992 and was very popular. Known “Mayor Mo” she, unfortunately, has more money than sense.
Her husband left her nearly $50 million which should made her comfortable for the rest of her life.
Prosecutors said her gambling activity exceeded $1 BILLION over the period 2000 – 2008. This money was lost from mostly playing video poker in casinos.
She’s charged with money laundering as she took this gambling money from the R. P. Foundation, the nonprofit foundation her husband started and she managed.
The foundation is reported to be virtually defunct. It contributed to charities such as the City of Hope, Alzheimer’s Association, and San Diego Hospice, which was forced to close its books due to O’Connor’s misallocation of funds.
Her annual gambling winnings peaked at more than $200 million
Where’s the Beef?
“I always intended to pay it back and I still intend to pay it back,” she said.
In 2005, O’Connor sold a hotel she owned for $7.5 million. She has three mortgages on her La Jolla, CA home, sold off another home in 2010 for $2.5 million and has sold off her art collection and jewelry.
O’Connor blamed her addiction on “grief,” starting with the loss of her husband, then three siblings and two close friends. She also had surgery for a brain tumor in 2011.
Under an agreement with federal prosecutors, she will receive treatment for gambling addiction and has two years repay the money to the foundation, as well as taxes owed to the government.
She looked very frail, used a cane and needed help walking as she entered the courtroom of federal Judge David Bartick. In her youth, she had been a star swimmer and later a physical education teacher before being elected to the City Council in 1971 as a maverick Democrat.
Under an agreement with prosecutors, prosecution of Maureen O’Connor was deferred, contingent on her repaying $2 million.
If she doesn’t violate any laws in the next two years, the charge may be dismissed.
With net losses of around $13 million, Maureen O’Connor is now “destitute”.
Good thing Jack in the Box has a dollar menu.