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Scammed Lottery Winner Gets $5 Million Prize 7-Years Later

In 2006, Robert Miles walked into a Syracuse convenience store with a winning scratch-off ticket worth $5 million. Seven years and one criminal trial later, Miles will finally be able to cash in his prize.

When Andy and Nayel Ashkar, the owner’s sons at Syracuse’s The Green Ale Market, saw Miles’s winning lottery ticket, they told Miles it was worth just $5,000, not $5 million. Miles, who was battling an addiction to crack cocaine at the time, believed them and accepted their offer of $4,000 cash.

Last year sometime, the Ashkar brothers attempted to cash the winning ticket, which set off an investigation by state gaming officials and, eventually, a criminal trial against the Ashkars.

In May, Andy Ashkar, who worked the counter that day, was convicted of possessing the stolen ticket and was sentenced to 25 years. His brother, Nafel, was acquitted on all charges for lack of evidence. Their father, Nayef Ashkar, who owns the convenience store, pleaded guilty to filing a false instrument and is expected to be tried on conspiracy charges in September.

On Wednesday, lottery officials completed their verification process and officially awarded Miles with the winnings.

“It’s a matter of paperwork now,” Lee Park, the New York Lottery spokesman, told NBC News.

Miles, who currently works as a maintenance man at a Syracuse apartment complex, was “elated the lottery prize has finally been awarded him,” according to his attorney, Steve Gamareri.

Miles will have the option of receiving $250,000 annually for the next 20 years, or a lump sum payment of $3.2 million, or $2.1 million after taxes.

Question: if this happened to you, would you take the annual payment of $250,000 (for the next 20 years), or the lump sum of $2.1 million (after taxes)?

In 2006, Robert Miles walked into a Syracuse convenience store with a winning scratch-off ticket worth $5 million. Seven years and one criminal trial later, Miles will finally be able to cash in his prize.

Lottery Officials to Answer to Willis Willis

Cheated winner to put commissioners’ feet to legal fire

By Bruce Felps • Published August 12, 2011 • Updated on August 12, 2011 at 5:16 pm

Commentary
by Bruce Felps

The views and opinions expressed here are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of NBC, NBC 5, NBCDFW.com or its employees.

Willis Willis, the man who double-dipped into the name bowl and came up a loser in the Texas Lottery even though he’d won, recently received some validation from a Texas judge in his battle to recover the swindled winnings.

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Willis and his attorneys with Howry Breen & Herman LLP are fighting the Texas Lottery Commission to recoup his $1 million winnings after a store clerk fraudulently stole (like any stealing isn’t fraudulent?) Willis’ winning ticket.

The suit also aims to drag answers out of lottery officials about how such theft and wrongful claims occur. Lottery commissioners tried to stonewall the answers, but the judge ordered the wall to come down.

Judge Tim Sulak of the 353rd District Court in Austin recently ruled that commissioners provide sworn testimony — under oath and presumably under law of perjury — on just how store clerk Pankaj Joshi pulled off, [cough] allegedly pulled off, the swindle and whether or not other clerks, technically agents of the lottery commission, perpetrated similar alleged crimes.

Score one for Willis. Well, another one. Earlier this year a court awarded him $395,000 of the $1 million he should have collected after it was recovered from Joshi’s account.

Next up: the remaining $605,000. That’s what we’re talking about, Willis.

Bruce Felps owns and operates East Dallas Times, an online community news outlet serving the White Rock Lake area. He regularly buys Lotto tickets and wants to rest assured he loses fair and square, ‘cause he ain’t won yet.

Cheated winner to put commissioners’ feet to legal fire. ]]>