Store clerk accused of stealing $1M lottery ticket
Man sues lottery over $5 million jackpot

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Originally Posted: August 19, 2005

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Store clerk accused of stealing $1M lottery ticket

August 18, 2005

PHOENIX - A Circle K clerk in Nogales is accused of stealing a lottery ticket and then collecting the one million-dollar winnings.

The Attorney General's Office says the ticket was one of several that a man had brought in to the clerk's store to check to see if he had won anything.

Authorities allege that clerk Delia Kerr returned the other tickets to the man, but kept the jackpot-winning "The Pick" ticket.

The man didn't know he had won the jackpot, but complained to the store manager that one of his tickets was missing. They searched but didn't find it.

Nogales police this week arrested the 50-year-old Kerr and her 41-year-old sister, Susan, for investigation of theft and fraud.

The A-G's Office, meanwhile, says it seized more than one (m) million dollars from a Tucson bank account opened by the sisters.

Moral to this story ...
Check Your Own Tickets!

Man sues lottery over $5 million jackpot
No ticket, but computer check would prove claim, suit says

BY CHARLOTTE HALE / The News Journal

Bob Palese says he would be $5 million richer if he had not destroyed a winning lottery ticket in his washer and dryer.

And rather than giving up his dream of a big jackpot, he's suing the Delaware State Lottery Office to try to collect the prize.

In a lawsuit filed this month in Chancery Court in Wilmington, the 48-year-old Bear resident accuses the lottery office and its director, Wayne Lemons, of failing to investigate his claim that he won the March 21, 2003, game.

Lottery officials announced in March 2004 that a $5 million jackpot was returned to the state general fund after the holder of the winning ticket from the March 21, 2003, contest failed to collect it.

Palese said the state can determine he is the winner by using its computerized lottery system to verify that he played four other sets of numbers along with the winning numbers, 09-13-19-24-27-35, at Valentina Liquors in Bear.

Palese says he knows what the other sets of numbers were because he kept the card he marked to buy his ticket.

"It's a virtual statistical impossibility that anyone besides [Palese] had played the same five 6-number combinations," the lawsuit says.

Lemons was not available to discuss Palese's claims. Lottery spokesman Brian Peters and the state Attorney General's Office, which represents the lottery in legal matters, would not comment.

Palese first tried to collect the prize a few weeks after the drawing by writing a letter to the lottery. But Lemons replied in a letter that Palese would have to wait one year from the date of the drawing for a review of his claim, the lawsuit says.

Shortly after the one-year anniversary of the drawing, however, Palese saw an item in the newspaper reporting the jackpot had been returned to the general fund. When he questioned lottery officials about it, they told him not to believe everything he read in the paper and a few days later asked for details about Palese's purchase and loss of the ticket, the lawsuit says.

Palese said the ticket was destroyed after he put it in the pocket of his jeans and then ran the jeans through the washer and dryer.

"Never once did they say to me, 'Mr. Palese, if you don't have the ticket, you don't win the money,' " he said.

Despite these efforts, Lemons told him through a letter in mid-April 2004 that he could not claim the prize without the winning ticket.

This is the second lawsuit Palese has filed to try to collect the winnings. He voluntarily withdrew the case he filed in Superior Court in December 2004.

Deputy Attorney General Michael McTaggart argued in a motion to dismiss the first lawsuit that state laws and lottery regulations require the presentation of a winning ticket to claim a prize. The regulations also say the lottery is not responsible for lost, stolen or mutilated tickets.

Court decisions in several other states also support this position, he wrote in the motion.

McTaggart's motion also alleged the state was protected against such lawsuits by sovereign immunity and that the proper court for making such a claim was Chancery Court.

Palese said if he wins his lawsuit, he would use the jackpot to put his 16-year-old son, Vincent, through college and take care of his 79-year-old mother, Dorothy.


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