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Disputed Mega Millions jackpot shows it pays to work first shift

PitPan Chicago Heights Illinois Wednesday May 16 2012.  Two employees are suing 12 others for MegaMillions winnings. | Joseph

Pita Pan in Chicago Heights, Illinois, Wednesday, May 16, 2012. Two employees are suing 12 others for MegaMillions winnings. | Joseph P. Meier~Sun-Times Media

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Updated: July 1, 2012 12:21PM

It apparently pays to work the first shift.

So says an attorney representing a bakery employee who has filed a lawsuit against 12 former co-workers, seeking his share of a Mega Millions jackpot worth $118 million.

His is the third suit over the disputed jackpot that’s been filed in the past week.

The dozen former employees, who quit en masse Tuesday, all worked at Pita Pan, a commercial bakery in Chicago Heights.

Michael Baird represents Nikko Chamopoulos, of Hanover Park, who filed his suit Thursday in Cook County Circuit Court. Another employee, J. Santos Bello, also filed Thursday. His attorney did not return a call Friday.

Another employee is expected to file next week, bringing the total to five, Baird said.

All five work the second shift, Baird said. And the 12 who claim to have the winning ticket, bought May 4 at a Glenwood gas station, work the first shift.

Employees from both shifts typically contribute $10 each for every Mega Millions drawing. Drawings are on Tuesday and Friday nights.

The group won $9 on May 1, which was reinvested in the May 4 drawing. The first-shift workers all chipped in more money when it was collected on May 2, he said, But they failed to tell the second shift workers about the extra collection, Baird said.

Normally, money is collected on Thursday for the Friday drawing, but the employees expected to be busier than usual that Thursday when Pita Pan’s biggest customer was to pay a visit, he said. That’s why the money was instead collected on Wednesday, May 2, he said.

“The guys who ran the pool decided to collect the money on Wednesday, which was out of the ordinary. They didn’t wait to go to the night guys like they always do. They only went to the guys who happened to be there in the morning, so a number of guys were aced out,” Baird said.

“Who wants to be in a situation like these guys are? They’re on the outside looking in,” Baird said.

Chamopoulos told Baird that if a worker is not at the bakery, perhaps on vacation or out sick, someone typically pays for his share of the pool and is reimbursed later. That did not happen this time, Baird said.

“They way my guy described it to me is they were not careful because, in reality, nobody expects they are going to win. But instead of doing the careful thing — following the way the normally did things — they deviated from it. Nobody thought it out,” Baird said.

Baird expects the three lawsuits will be merged for a court hearing scheduled for May 29.

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