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Long IslandSuffolk

Mega Millions couple must wait for part of winnings

Richard and Linda Morrison of Miller Place will have to wait awhile longer for a portion of their Mega Millions winnings.

Nearly $1 million of the couple's $165-million lottery prize remains in an escrow account after Wednesday's postponement of a hearing in State Supreme Court in Riverhead on Suffolk County's claim that the Morrisons owe the county money.

The Morrisons' attorney, Michael Solomon of Levittown, said Wednesday he requested the postponement to get "an adequate amount of time" to prepare his case. "We're working to have [the county's] application denied and have their case dismissed," he said.

County Attorney Christine Malafi earlier this month sought a court order blocking payment of $950,921.90 to the Morrisons the county says the couple owes it from their now-closed homeless shelters.

The Morrisons' contract with Suffolk County to run the shelters was canceled in 2005 after the county said the Morrisons overbilled the county in 2000 for retroactive raises, pensions never funded and equipment auditors couldn't find.

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Solomon has said the county's dispute is with Love'M Shelter Inc., the now defunct corporation run by the Morrisons, and that the couple cannot be held responsible for the corporation's debts to the county. Richard Morrison was executive director of Love'M Shelter Inc.

County attorneys agreed to allow Solomon to hold the disputed funds in an escrow account while the case continued.

A hearing on the dispute was to be held Wednesday before State Supreme Court Justice Thomas Whelan. The county agreed to the postponement, a spokeswoman for Malafi said.

A new date for the hearing was not immediately scheduled, the spokeswoman said.

The couple's lump-sum payment was expected to be about $100 million, and they were to receive about $66 million after taxes, Solomon has said.

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