As reported by Sydney Ember of the New York Times last week, on February 3, 2011, an undocumented immigrant (whose name has not been released by authorities), entered the N & K Quik Pick store in Spring Valley, New York to buy a $10.00 scratch off instant lottery ticket. Lo and behold, the ticket was a $3,000,000 winner! When the man informed the store owner that he had won this huge prize, the store clerk, Atif Ali, told the man that he “would be deported” from the United States if he attempted to claim his winnings. In order to “help” the winner, the clerk stated that he would take the ticket and claim the prize for him.
According to the Rockland County District Attorney Thomas R. Zugibe, Mr. Ali, the store owner, Riaz Khan of Monroe, New York, and a third man, Mubeen Ashraf, also of Monroe, were charged with grand larceny in the first degree. First degree grand larceny is a Class B felony under section 155.42 of the New York State Penal Law, punishable by a maximum of 25 years in state prison. Realistically, if the defendants do not have a prior criminal record, even if they pled to a larceny charge, or another negotiated plea, they would not be facing anywhere near the maximum jail time for this offense.
In order to collect the lottery prize, the winner must sign the back of the ticket to prevent others from claiming the winnings. But since the man had already signed the ticket, the store owner requested that he sign an affidavit indicating that they had purchased the ticket together. Skeptical lottery officials nevertheless paid the first of 20 annual $150,000 payments to the store owner, who then decided to sell the remaining rights to the jackpot to a company known as “Advance Funding” for $600,000. Advance Funding allegedly stated that they entered the transaction after confirming with lottery representatives that Mr. Ali had in fact purchased the ticket.
The majority of the money is now in a bank account which has been frozen pending resolution of this issue. The man will be entitled to receive his winnings, but is unclear how much of the loot he will get, since Advance Funding will certainly claim they entered the transaction in good faith and are entitled to the rights to the prize. According to the attorney representing the man, he “wants to get his money back and get left alone.”
Contact the Westchester County Criminal Defense Attorneys online or toll free at (914) 428-7386 if you or a family member are charged with a crime or traffic infraction for a free initial consultation to discuss your rights and legal options.