Schenectady County

Former $1 million lottery winners short bail on drug charges

William Rivenburgh sat in his car at the Stewart’s on Brandywine Avenue in October 2006, attempting
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William Rivenburgh sat in his car at the Stewart’s on Brandywine Avenue in October 2006, attempting to comprehend the $5 lottery ticket he’d just scratched off was a $1 million winner.

Now, not even three years later, Rivenburgh is sitting in the Schenectady County Jail on drug charges, apparently wondering how he can post a bail of only $5,000.

Rivenburgh, 40, and wife Alissia, 33, were each charged last week with felony drug counts, accused of making a crack cocaine sale May 25 at their second-floor apartment at 99 O’Dell St.

They allegedly made $50 on the deal.

Both were in court Monday, appearing before City Court Judge Guido Loyola. The judge informed them they had both been indicted and that further proceedings would be held in County Court.

Their arrests came about two years, seven months after they stood in front of local television and print media to accept a giant check for $1 million.

William Rivenburgh, a veteran of the Iraq war, often purchased lottery tickets.

“I had to look at it five times,” Rivenburgh recalled at the November 2006 press conference. “I wanted to make sure I wasn’t seeing anything.”

The winnings were to come in yearly installments of $50,000 before taxes over 20 years, with half assigned to William and half to his wife.

The winnings were a welcome relief for the couple, who were raising four children, including William’s two nephews and a niece.

William Rivenburgh was deployed to Iraq in 2004. About that time, Alissia Rivenburgh also was in rehab, according to an account on Capital News 9’s Web site.

The couple planned to put the money toward a trip to Walt Disney World and home improvements. They were also helping family members pay bills.

What has become of the money was unclear.

County records show the two sold 10 years of payments to a structured settlement firm in January 2007, receiving about $320,000 before taxes for the $500,000 in payments.

The records also include the Rivenburghs’ address as 99 O’Dell St., Apt. 2, the same location as last week’s drug raid.

That is also the same address that William Rivenburgh purchased in February 2006, eight months before his lottery win. That house is now in foreclosure, with Rivenburgh owing $57,000 on the loan.

William Rivenburgh’s attorney Michael Braccini Monday said he did not know about Rivenburgh’s past lottery win. When presented with paperwork, he said he could not dispute it.

But regarding the charges, Braccini said his client is innocent.

“They’re saying there was a hand-to-hand sale made by my guy,” Braccini said. “My guy swears that ne never sold crack to anybody.”

Braccini, an appointed defender, also noted the O’Dell Street home was seized by the bank the day Rivenburgh was arrested.

The home was raided just before 9 p.m. June 16, with police finding cocaine and marijuana, authorities said. The investigation began over complaints from neighbors.

Also arrested in the raid were: Nathaniel Gordon, 21, of 724 Kenwood Ave.; Joquan K. Gordon, 16, of Georgetta Dix Boulevard and Rayson B. Smith, 22, of Furman Street. They were charged with third-degree criminal possession of a controlled substance.

The Rivenburghs remained in the Schenectady County Jail Monday night, William Rivenburgh held on $5,000 bail; his wife on $10,000 bail.

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