A man has been sentenced to up to 25 years in prison for having a scratch-off lottery ticket, stolen at his parents' convenience store in 2006.
A man convicted of possessing another man's winning US$5 million ($5.4 million) lottery ticket has been sentenced to up to 25 years in prison.
The prosecutor's office says Andy Ashkar, who is of Palestinian descent, was sentenced Tuesday morning to between eight-and-a-third and 25 years for having the ticket that was stolen at his parents' convenience store in Syracuse in October 2006.
The same judge who convicted Ashkar in May of criminal possession of stolen property handed down the sentence, citing his "rapacious greed.''
Prosecutors say Ashkar had stolen the winning scratch-off ticket from the real winner, Robert Miles. Lottery officials say they're close to determining whether the ticket belongs to Miles.
Mr Miles has said he took the ticket in October 2006 to Ashkar's parents store. Ashkar told him the ticket was only worth US$5000, gave him US$4,000 in cash and took the rest "as the store's cut", the Post-Standard reports.
Mr Miles says he knew the ticket’s value at the time, as he did when he later filed for bankruptcy. "There wasn’t a day go by that I didn’t think about how my life would’ve been," he says.
Mr Miles says it was his lunchtime ritual, while working as a maintenance worker in a nearby apartment complex, to spend up to US$200 on scratch-off lottery tickets during his lunch break. When he handed the winning $20 scratch-off to Andy Ashkar, he was told it was only worth US$5000 after scanning - US$1000 of which would go to the store, according to the Post-Standard.
Mr Miles says he protested but that Ashkar fled the store, saying he was taking it to the lottery office before speeding away in a car. “I was running down the street behind the car, yelling,” Mr Miles said. “A lot of people seen me yelling at him.”
Mr Miles also recalls he was unfit for a high-speed pursuit, having got high the night before on crack cocaine.
He said he no longer uses drugs. He’s held a steady job as a maintenance man for years, raised two children and helped raise three stepdaughters.
Mr MIles says he neverr played scratch-off lottery games after that day and never confronted the Ashkars.
Ashkar and his brother, Nayel Ashkar, waited until 2012 to try to claim the prize. Suspicious of the Ashkars, the New York Lottery issued a news release about the Ashkars’ unusual six-year-old ticket.
A police officer who’d heard about Mr Miles’ ticket tracked him down
Ashkar's brother was cleared of conspiracy charges.The Ashkars' father, Nayef Ashkar, still faces a conspiracy charge.
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