A New York man has been sentenced to up to 25 years in prison after being convicted of possessing a $5 million winning lottery ticket that was stolen from his parents' convenience store in Syracuse, N.Y., in October 2006.
Prosecutors stated that Andy Ashkar, a former finance manager at a Syracuse-area auto dealership, had stolen the winning scratch-off ticket from the real winner, Robert Miles. Lottery officials said Tuesday they're in the "final stages" of the verification process that will determine if the ticket belongs to Miles.
Ashkar's brother, Nayel, was cleared of conspiracy charges during the same trial. Their father, Nayef, owner of the store where the ticket was sold, is charged with conspiracy and he has a separate trial scheduled for later this year.
"Mr. Ashkar, let me tell you something," Onondaga County Judge Joseph Fahey said. "You exhibited some of the most rapacious greed I've seen in a long, long time."
Police and lottery officials said the Ashkar brothers convinced Miles, a maintenance worker at an apartment complex near the store, that the ticket was worth only $5,000 when Miles bought it in 2006. The brothers paid Miles $4,000, took a $1,000 handling fee, then waited until the ticket was about to expire before trying to claim the jackpot in 2012, prosecutors said.
Miles said he wasn't thinking clearly that day because he had been high on crack cocaine the night before.
"It was a crime of greed, absolute greed, on the part of Andy Ashkar, and I'm pleased the judge took the stand that he did," Beth Van Doren, the assistant district attorney who prosecuted the case, told The Associated Press. "The community is just outraged that this happened because everyone has an attachment to the lottery and the dream of winning money."