23rd of April 2013 Author: Glo Wood
Two brothers from central New York, Andy Ashkar (34) and Nayel Ashkar (36), stand accused of second-degree attempted grand larceny and fourth-degree conspiracy for lottery ticket fraud. Andy Ashkar was also charged with first-degree criminal possession of stolen property.
The legitimate buyer and owner of the disputed lottery scratch-off ticket is a 49-year-old married father of two, who came forward after suspicious lottery security officials' attempt to find the true winner, told the story to a Syracuse newspaper of the brothers' win.
At the time the man thought that the win was worth $5,000 despite a friend telling him it was a $5 million windfall. On attempting to cash-in the ticket at Ashcar' family convenience store in October 2006, he was allegedly told by Andy Ashcar that he had won $5,000.
Unbelievably, Ashcar proposed that in order to avoid tax and other complications, the ticket owner should accept $4,000 in cash from him and hand over the ticket - and he did so!
The Ashcars paitently waited for five years before approaching the lottery to claim the $5 million ticket, saying that they had purchased it at their parent's store and had delayed until just before it expired in order not to influence upcoming family nuptials.
As the lottery routinely scrutinises large wins security officials became suspicious of the Ashcars' story, especially when the brothers were prepared to take a smaller amount of prize money to avoid publicity. So local police were called in and an investigation showed who the real owner was.
The owner pressed charges in an attempt to recover the money, which is due annually in installments of $250,000 over 20 years from the lottery, and given the six year lapse, the real owner could be due $1.5 million right away.
The Ashkars, both employed as managers at area auto dealerships, have pleaded not guilty and their lawyer claims they legitimately received the ticket and own it. They have also elected to have a judge rule on their case rather than a jury.
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