SYRACUSE, N.Y. — Nearly seven years after a winning $5 million scratch-off lottery ticket was snatched from his hands, Robert Miles of Syracuse, New York, will finally get his money.
Lottery officials contacted the district attorney's office with the news today, according to Onondaga County District Attorney William Fitzpatrick. A source in the state lottery office confirmed that the "ticket has been verified" and the money "will be issued to Mr. Miles in the very near future."
The winning ticket, a jackpot "Extravaganza" winner, was sold at The Green Ale Market in 2006. It wasn't until 2012 that two brothers, Nayel and Andy Ashkar, went to a state lottery office to try to redeem the ticket.
The lottery launched an investigation, finding it suspicious that the ticket had been sold at the market the Ashkars' parents owned, and that the brothers had waited so long to try to make their claim.
After the lottery released the news that the Ashkars had the ticket, Robert Miles came forward and said he was the real winner.
He said Andy Ashkar had stolen the ticket from him — first telling him that it was only worth $5,000 and giving him $4,000, keeping a cut for the store. The case went to trial and Andy Ashkar was found guilty of possessing stolen property. He was recently sentenced in Onondaga County Court to the maximum sentence of 8 1/3 to 25 years in prison.
Miles, a maintenance worker, testified at the trial. He said he let the ticket slip from his hands seven years ago because he had been addicted to crack cocaine and confused by what had happened to him. He thought that without the ticket, it would be the word of a "crackhead" against a store owner, he testified.
Miles filed for bankruptcy in 2008, knowing he should have been a millionaire five times over.
Miles could not be immediately reached for comment. His lawyer, Steve Cambareri said Miles had just found out the news and wasn't ready to talk to the press, but was "elated the lottery prize has finally been awarded to him."
Cambareri added that it had been "a long time coming."
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