St. Louis Post-Dispatch from St. Louis, Missouri on August 31, 2001 · Page 9
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St. Louis Post-Dispatch from St. Louis, Missouri · Page 9

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St. Louis, Missouri
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Friday, August 31, 2001
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Page 9
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H9 " ST. LOUIS POST-DISPATCH ntHS FRIDAY, AUGUSI 31, AJU1 Bankrupt lottery winner goes from riches to rags Continued from Al St, Louis Centre adopted Korean children. She also contributed heavily to her church, according to several Korean-Americans here. And when a pastor at a local Korean church died unexpectedly, she gave $30,000 to his family. She also paid for the funeral expenses, Kay-Song Lee said. In 1999, Lee was president of St. Louis' Korean American Association and bought a house in North County to use as a private club for the group. She never completed the renovations by the time her one-year term was up, and she eventually sold the house, according to Kay-Song Lee. Sold right to winnings It is unclear when Lee's finances took a tailspin, but several factors could have led to her bankruptcy. She incurred a $750,000 penalty for prepaying a loan; the amount is currently in dispute. Details of when and what she prepaid are unclear. Lee also sold the right to her winnings for a lump sum, which she did not disclose. But court filings show that she collected nearly $5 million from lottery winnings in the last two years. It was used to pay off debt and mortgages, the filings said. An investment in a restaurant, the Bombay Bicycle Club in Ha-zelwood, also turned sour. She had put money into the property on the suggestion of a person who acted as an adviser, said Stanton, Lee's attorney. "It was a bad investment," Stanton said. Lee sold the property in September of last year. Gambling and credit card debt also cost her a bundle. Last year alone, Lee lost nearly $347,000 at several casinos in the St. Louis area, according to court filings. She racked up about $37,000 charged to several credit cards. This February, she took a second loan from Royal Banks of Missouri, for $200,000, according to court documents; she borrowed - $1.4 million from the bank in 1997. But she also leased a 2000 Mercedes Benz E-class auto in April, handing over $800 in her first payment. She then missed her bank loan payments in May and her car payments in June. Lee filed for Chapter 7 bankruptcy a month later. Jo Mannies of the Post-Dispatch staff contributed information for this story. Reporter Chern Yeh Kwok: E-mail: cykwokpost-dispatch.com Phone: 314-340-8206 Cash aplenty to Democrats Her generosity wasn't limited to Washington University. Lee skyrocketed into political prominence in 1997, when she sought to be the luncheon chair- woman for a local fund-raising event for President Bill Clinton. She backed up that request with campaign checks for $100,000 to the Democratic National Committee. Lee sat next to Clinton at that luncheon. Her generosity soon touched off a stampede among prominent Missouri Democrats seeking campaign donations. All told, she donated $277,000 to various candidates over the next three years. That included $2,000 to Hillary Clinton's successful New York bid for the U.S. Senate last year. The largest chunk $84,000 went to Rep. Richard A. Gephardt's various campaign committees. Another $10,000 went to various committees tied to Attorney General Jay Nixon's unsuccessful 1998 bid for the U.S. Senate. At Nixon's November 1997 fund-raiser, Lee sat next to Clinton again. In October 1998, she sat next to Vice President Al Gore when he held a fund-raising dinner here. Area Democratic activists said they were introduced to Lee through Clinton's campaign aides. Other than her money, none of those activists claimed to know much about her. In 1997, Lee ranked 31st on a list of the top soft money donors to the Democratic National Party Committee, according to Common Cause, a citizens lobbying organization. That put her a. notch below the Boeing Co. In 1998, she was ranked in the top three of individual political donors in Missouri for that year. Between these events, Lee attended a state dinner at the White House for South Korean President Kim Dae-Jung. Accompanying Lee was her stepdaughter, who now practices law in Chicago. Aiding the poor, church The St. Louis community also benefited from her generosity, and Lee maintained a high profile among Korean-Americans in St. Louis. She held lunches for the homeless in Forest Park, said Kay-Song Lee. She supported a local association for families that 1 Ik II 40.00 m 75 10.00 (EXTRA p final. Sorry, no mail or phone Intermediate markdowns may have Alterations not available. OFF OFF) All sales are Dillard's, Visa, MasterCard, American Express, SHOP TODAY 10:30 A.M. 6 orders. been taken. i 4.00 40 For Your Convenience We Accept Your i v . ri I SfrRfo m On that day eight years ago, Lee's cousin drove her to the Route 3 Gift Shop and Lottery in Sauget, just across the Missouri-Illinois state line, to buy only her second ticket for the Illinois Lottery. Lee, then 52, found out the next day that she had won $18 million. ' She took her winnings in 20 annual installments of $620,000, after taxes. She soon bought a house in a gated neighborhood in Town and Country, paying $1.2 million. Among her dreams was to build a nondenominational church in the St Louis area, she told the Post-Dispatch in 1993. Giving to Washington U. Across from the entrance to Washington University's School of Law library hangs a painting of Janite Lee dressed in a white hanbok, a traditional Korean dress. To the right is the Janite Lee Reading Room, which the university describes as built in the style of the English Inns of Court. Mahogany beams line the ceiling, pnd shelves are stacked with tomes of reference material. "The perfect place for quiet study and Contemplation," the university Roasts on its Web site. i. Washington University declined to say how much or when ILee donated to the law school. JCay-Song Lee said Lee told him jshe donated $1.5 million. ! The donations to the university ididnt end there. In 1999, Lee, who had a stepdaughter who graduated from Washington University, made the Parents' Honor iRoll as a Life Eliot Benefactor. To jattain this title, Lee would have Contributed $500,000 to $1 million. ! "Janite Lee has been a very Supportive member of our community," said Joel Seligman, dean Jof Washington University's School of Law, in a statement. !"We are proud that her daughter is a graduate of the school, and Jier expressions of appreciation Jreflect well upon her and the school." i i 149.99 Dual-band Sprint PCS' phone by Samsung 2.5-hour talk time & 60-hour standby Wireless WetTcapability SCH-3500 7732417 I: V r i For Your SAINT LOUIS ill t a ft I -i 3 r,iiP n f end liase & a C Discover, Carte Blanche, Or Diner's Club Card. P.M. ts & f n"i rebate card receivi print mail-in & $50 Dillard's gift . o si .Stylish Compact? - lots ot SM "co wi . 1 w j "-S0ft.'.ji"-w" Sprint, Sprint PCS The Clear Alternative to Cellular. 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