Mega Millions couple fighting back taxes battle

May 18, 2010 3:46:28 PM PDT
One Long Island couple is using their Mega Millions winnings to fight a battle in court, rather than pay taxes they reportedly owe. Suffolk county officials are going after them for thousands of dollars in property taxes, but the Mega Millions winners say they aren't going to pay.

Within two months of accepting a $66 million lump sum, Richard and Mary Morrison closed on a $5 million Belle Terre mansion, complete with an indoor pool and 18 carat gold faucets.

It's a far cry from a house abandoned by Richard Morrison's now defunct non-profit. The town of Brookhaven has condemned the home and neighbors like Theresa Samolinski are forced to chip in, just to keep the grass cut.

"They've owned this house for 15 years and for 15 years this house has looked the same," she said.

It's one of six owned by Love'm Sheltering, the Morrisons' non-profit, funded by Suffolk county, for 20 years to put a roof over the heads of area homeless.

The county says back taxes on those six properties add up to more than $70,000. And that's just the beginning of the mega millionaires' mega debt.

Five years ago, the county comptroller found Love'm Sheltering misused hundreds of thousands in taxpayer money on things like big screen tv's, and a pension plan that was never funded. With interest, that debt is now almost a million dollars.

But winning the jackpot only gave the Morrison's more financial resources to fight the county in court.

They deny they owe a penny, from the county audit.

As far as the houses go, another non-profit agency tells Eyewitness News it's already agreed to foot the bill to renovate them, and pay off the taxes. But it's waiting for a federal grant before it can do either.

"Why would the Morrison's pay it? They're in contract for somebody else to pay it," said the family attorney.