N.J. Powerball Winner Pays $30K in Back Child Support

Passaic, n.j. — Pedro Quezada would often walk about a dozen blocks from his School Street apartment in Passaic to the bodega his family ran on Eighth Street without much fanfare. When he walked into court yesterday — to settle a debt of nearly $30,000 for unpaid child support — he was flanked by eight men.

The father of five and Powerball jackpot winner now has an attorney, one who serves as the family spokesman and as trustee of his winnings — about $152 million after taxes. Quezada also plans to establish a corporation to distribute money to charities, here and in the Dominican Republic. And he has been the subject of rumors, including one that said he was going to write checks to cover the rent of his neighbors. (Not true, his attorney said yesterday.)

The bodega has been put up for sale, Quezada has moved out of his two-bedroom walk-up and said during court that his children will be moving in with him.

Such is the life of a newly minted multimillionaire, one who dodged reporters camped out to ask him questions in front of the Passaic County Administration Building on Grand Street in Paterson, but couldn’t escape some advice offered from the bench.

“There’s going to be a lot of people asking you to invest. You are a special person now because of the good fortune that you have,” said Superior Court Judge Ernest M. Caposela, who heads the Family Division.

“But remember, investing in your children is the most important thing, all right. That’s the wisest investment you can make.”

Quezada, who emigrated from the Dominican Republic 26 years ago, nodded as the judge spoke.

“He certainly has benevolent intentions, and using portions of the dividends of this money for foundations in the Dominican Republic, and the United States,” said his attorney and trustee Paul Fernandez, who has offices in Paterson. “His life has changed dramatically, in such different and wonderful ways. He feels empowerment and what it is to be blessed by God. He understands the depths of his responsibility.

“And he feels he can make a meaningful change in his life,” he said.

Quezada, 44, who spoke in his brief court appearance through a Spanish-language interpreter, was accompanied by family members and a friend. He told the judge “my children are going to be living with me from now on.”

The judge said if that is true, Quezada’s attorney must file a modification motion to address future support payments, which are $141 per week. The children’s mother did not attend Monday’s hearing.

Afterward, Fernandez told reporters gathered outside that for Quezada, who has always shared custody of his children, the episode was “behind him now.”

“He’s paid and overpaid the amount that was due,” said Fernandez, who said that he has known the family for years. “He is thankful this is over with. His children are with him. He’s a family man and this is all concluded.”

Fernandez said his client plans to continue to take care of his children and protect them from unnecessary attention.

“He plans to do what is conservative and right for his family,” Fernandez said. “His kids come first.

“We understand the anxiety he’s been through, the stress” he added. “He just wants to shelter his children from any needless attention.”

Quezada officially claimed his winnings in Trenton, N.J., last week, a day after verifying the winning ticket at Eagle Liquors, the Passaic Street store where he had purchased the Lotto ticket. Judith Druker, spokeswoman for the New Jersey Lottery, said last week that it takes between two and three weeks for winners to receive their winnings. During that time, she said, a review is done for any unpaid taxes, liens, and child support owed. She said money owed is deducted from the prize.