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Woman found guilty of stealing winning lottery ticket

Mega MillionsMega Millions: Woman found guilty of stealing winning lottery ticket

On the day she allegedly stole a $175,000 winning lottery ticket, Dora Leal was a confused, emotional wreck, mourning the loss of her "baby" dog Pablo, Leal testified in a Cook County courtroom Tuesday.

In fact, Leal's attorney would later tell jurors, Leal was so shaky that had she been "working in a nitroglycerine factory, she could have blown up the whole town."

If that was a plea for sympathy or an explanation for why Leal didn't realize she held a winning lottery ticket, jurors didn't buy it.  In less than two hours, a jury found her guilty of stealing the ticket from a group of Chicago traders who'd pooled their money and sent Leal, a clerk, to check for a winner.

Leal and her defense team argued: she never knew she had a winning ticket; perhaps she lost the ticket; maybe one of the traders lost it; or perhaps it's still in the convenience store on South La Salle where it was purchased.

Conflicting testimony


"This is so wrong," Leal said as she tightly hugged her sobbing daughter moments after the verdict was announced. Leal, who had been free on bond, was immediately taken into custody.

It was a noticeably different Leal from the woman who, just hours earlier, was chatty, engaging and smiling -- even as prosecutor Lori Rosen tried to trip her up on the witness stand.

Leal testified that while she was in the convenience store checking the tickets in December 2003, no one ever told her she held a winning ticket.

On Monday, the store owner testified she told Leal she had a big winner. Another witness testified he congratulated Leal and high-fived her. But Leal said that never happened. On the stand, Leal repeatedly said, "Oh, no," shaking her head emphatically.

'I never lose things'


Leal said after checking her tickets, she put them all in her pocket, left the store and then gave them to her boss, one of the traders.

As Leal made denial after denial Tuesday, Rosen turned away from her and occasionally frowned.

But at one point, Rosen asked Leal if she felt "really bad" about the whole incident.

"Yes, because I never lose things," Leal replied.

Rosen didn't ask any more questions.

In closing arguments, Rosen reminded jurors of Leal's testimony.

"By her own admission, she has never lost anything," Rosen said. "By her own admission, she is very organized."

But Leal's lead attorney, Robert Kuzas, said Leal didn't fit the profile of a thief. There's no evidence she ever tried to hide the winning ticket, Kuzas argued. Besides, Kuzas said, the traders eventually received their winnings from the state lottery.

To this day the ticket has never turned up.

Should have stayed home


"This is the kind of case where you can feel good about doing the right thing, and finding my client not guilty," Kuzas said.

At one point Tuesday, Leal testified that she should never have gone to work on that day she is accused of pocketing the ticket.

"I should have just stayed with my girls, and mourned our baby [dog]," she said.

Sentencing is set for Jan. 9. Leal faces probation or a prison term of up to 15 years.

Chicago Sun-Times

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70 comments. Last comment 11 years ago by CASH Only.
Page 1 of 5
truecritic's avatar - PirateTreasure
United States
Member #22395
September 24, 2005
1583 Posts
Posted: December 14, 2005, 7:52 am - IP Logged

What a great Country?  If she never got the money.  If the ticket was never cashed in.  If the ticket never showed up anywhere.

What is she guilty of?

How can losing a piece of paper or even intentionally taking a piece of paper be a crime if there is no benefit from that paper?

The moral is: don't ever go and check lottery tickets alone.  Don't ever lose any papers, notes, emails, etc;

Note: If I take the worst case and assume she took the ticket intentionally, I do believe that is wrong.  But without her (or someone) cashing in the ticket, I do not believe a crime has been commited.  If I was on the jury, not guilty would've been my vote.

    whitmansm2's avatar - Lottery-029.jpg
    Right here...can't you see me?
    United States
    Member #21521
    September 10, 2005
    131 Posts
    Posted: December 14, 2005, 8:25 am - IP Logged

    I Agree!


    Whether it was a stolen ticket or not.  She never cashed it in, the others got their money, and she's probably out of a job.  (forced or harassed into quiting)  Do I believe that she was in morning over her lil baby dog?  No.  BUT......what is she guilty of?  If she's guilty of not cashing in a jackpot, I better go turn myself in too!  I've NEVER cashed in a jackpot!  lol

    Personally, I think that her and her attorney were not on the same page.  He was working the angle of her being shakey and distraught.  She was adament about never losing anything.  Basically he said she won, but lost the ticket.  She's claiming it never happened!  Sounds STUPID to me!  lol

    No No

    Don't cry over spilled milk.  Go milk another cow!!


      RJOh's avatar - chipmunk
      United States
      Member #9
      March 24, 2001
      19900 Posts
      Posted: December 14, 2005, 8:50 am - IP Logged

      Taking something that belongs to someone else even if you never benefits from it is still steeling.  Holding a lottery ticket worth $175,000 that she thought belonged to 16 guys who didn't know what they had and were too dumb, lazy or busy to check for themselves and would never be any wiser if she didn't tell them is probably what made her a little shaky. A little time in jail will fix that.

      They didn't throw those tickets away but gave them to her to check and she should have known at least one of those pool members would have a copy of the tickets and would recheck who ever checked those tickets, win or lose.


       * you don't need to buy more tickets, just buy a winning ticket * 
                   Evil Looking       

        United States
        Member #26983
        November 25, 2005
        167 Posts
        Posted: December 14, 2005, 8:56 am - IP Logged

        If only they had video of her giving that witness a high five in the store!!!



          DirtyWrat's avatar - dirty rat_3051bs_mor.jpg
          Darlington, S.C.
          United States
          Member #3691
          February 12, 2004
          133 Posts
          Posted: December 14, 2005, 8:57 am - IP Logged


          The only reason she didn't cash the winning ticket in was because she knew she wouldn't ever get away with it. There was too many witnesses at the store when the ticket came up a big winner. She kept that ticket with the sole intention of stealing that money.

          Let's say someone kidnapped a wealthy person's baby and held it for ransom. They see for whatever reason that they aren't going to get away with it so they return the baby unharmed.

          No harm, no foul? I don't think so.

          With the lottery I get all the exercise I need.

                            In futility.

            Tenaj's avatar - michellea
            Charlotte NC
            United States
            Member #17406
            June 18, 2005
            4054 Posts
            Posted: December 14, 2005, 9:35 am - IP Logged

            Roll EyesThe problem that I have is our justice system. It works for those who have the money to buy the lawyers that know how to use the law.  There are many individuals and corporations who steal thousands times more than she and come out squeaky clean.

            She is a dumb thief who needed a better lawyer.




              whitmansm2's avatar - Lottery-029.jpg
              Right here...can't you see me?
              United States
              Member #21521
              September 10, 2005
              131 Posts
              Posted: December 14, 2005, 9:42 am - IP Logged

              First she gives the information to the retailer to say that they sold the winning ticket.  She high fives everyone.  Tells her boss that he only won $17.  He finds out some other way.  IL lottery is paying him and his co-workers.  She claims the ticket was lost.  The ticket never gets cashed.  (this all from the media....can't say it's fact)

              He obviously didn't trust her that he only won $17 so he checks himself.  If he never trusted her, he shouldn't have sent her to check the tickets to begin with.

              The bullsh!t is definitly thick in this case.  Whatever the truth is doesn't matter anymore because they found her guilty.  Maybe she really did lose it.  Maybe she stole it and changed her mind. 

              I guess what I'm saying is.....I'm placing my money on the fact she's not going to be doing jail time.  The people got their money.  She's going to get probation and time already served.

              No No

              Don't cry over spilled milk.  Go milk another cow!!



                United States
                Member #972
                December 30, 2002
                465 Posts
                Posted: December 14, 2005, 10:35 am - IP Logged

                Here's what I think: if you have a lottery pool, do not send someone from outside the pool to check the numbers. Especially a relatively poor person with children. Leal had essentially become like any poor convenience store clerk, someone who had the ticket to a new life in their hands, if only they could get away with taking it. It was only the legal freight train barrelling down on her that caused the ticket to be "lost" instead of cashed in.  She is guilty, but some of the guilt should be spread to those day traders (who are obviously above her in rank and pay) who put her in that position by assigning her to check the ticket.

                These stories have persuaded me to never join a lottery pool. My 1 ticket a drawing may never win me the big one, but if I do win I don't have to worry about crap like this.

                  fja's avatar - gnome1

                  United States
                  Member #91
                  January 19, 2002
                  12009 Posts
                  Posted: December 14, 2005, 10:40 am - IP Logged

                  Not only does she not get the $175,000.... she probably has to pay $175,000 in legal fees, .....lose here job.... have a criminal background record....and spend some time in the pokey.......where as, if she had given them the winning ticket they might have tipped her for going to check,,,,and she would still have he job...she probably cant produce the wining ticket because she signed it with her own name and it would have made her instantly guilty......you'll never see the ticket again.....

                    konane's avatar - wallace
                    Atlanta, GA
                    United States
                    Member #1265
                    March 13, 2003
                    3348 Posts
                    Posted: December 14, 2005, 11:01 am - IP Logged

                    Circles back to the same point we've made before that if it's important enough to spend money on the ticket, then check and verify the numbers yourself.  Don't trust anyone else to look out for your best interests especially when lots of money is at stake.  Yes Nod

                    Good luck to everyone!

                      whitmansm2's avatar - Lottery-029.jpg
                      Right here...can't you see me?
                      United States
                      Member #21521
                      September 10, 2005
                      131 Posts
                      Posted: December 14, 2005, 11:09 am - IP Logged

                      Less than $10k after taxes and even less after lawyer fees. 

                      I, personally, would have let it drop seeing that the lottery was going to pay me anyways.  Then I would have guilted her into finding a different place to work!

                      (again, I'm betting she's not going to do time over this)

                      No No

                      Don't cry over spilled milk.  Go milk another cow!!



                        United States
                        Member #119
                        February 19, 2002
                        527 Posts
                        Posted: December 14, 2005, 11:15 am - IP Logged

                        Rule #1: Do not EVER play in a lottery pool UNLESS you have a photocopy of ALL the tickets BEFOREHAND.

                        Rule #2: See Rule #1

                          United States
                          Member #916
                          December 12, 2002
                          18335 Posts
                          Posted: December 14, 2005, 11:24 am - IP Logged

                          Bottom Line:  Dishonesty will punish you

                            New Member
                            Chicago, IL
                            United States
                            Member #28308
                            December 13, 2005
                            16 Posts
                            Posted: December 14, 2005, 11:34 am - IP Logged

                            I am actually one of the 16 traders involved in this case.  I found this site while searching the internet after a friend of mine told me he saw my name in the paper.  I testified at this case on Monday.  Read my other posts in the thread discussing yesterday's articles for a summary of the events that happened on Dec 31st of 2003.  I am all for healthy cynicism, but she is guilty.  If you knew the details of the case you would agree.  She stole the ticket with criminal intent.  She had every intention of cashing that ticket secrectly so that none of us found out.  There were at least ten people who saw her win.  Three of those people testified in court.  I was one of those people.  Her boss defended her until there no longer was any shadow of a doubt that she was guilty.  Seriously read my other posts for more details.  She was overwhelmingly guilty.  She destroyed the ticket after she knew she was busted.  She doesn't have to attempt to cash the ticket to prove guilt.  Imagine if ten people see your employee steal your car.  You ask your employee about it but she pleads ingorance.  You would press charges, right?  And the employee would be found guilty of larceny, regardless of whether or not you got the car back two years later.  That's exactly what happened to us.  Our lawyer does have the money, but I still don't.  I/we will be paid, but only after lawyer fees and two years of headaches.  She had every opportunity to do the right thing.  She could've simply given us the ticket that day.  We would've forgiven her.  If she would've brought us the ticket after she won, we would've cut her in.  'Cus that's the type of people we are.  She knew that.  Also the lottery commission at first told us they wouldn't pay us, so that wasn't exactly a foregone conclusion.  We had to hire a lawyer to prod the commission into paying.  Her guilt had nothing to do with her lack of money.  I don't know where she got the cash, but she had a good lawyer working for her, not just some public defender.  Maybe he did it for the press coverage.  If you want to get pissed at someone for taking advantage of her, the lawyer could be a good target.  I was told by the prosecutors that the judge strongly suggested she enter a plea of guilty and save the court their time and money.  Again, it was obvious that she was guilty.  Apparently he declined, possibly because he wanted the press coverage associated with a trial by jury verdict--regardless of the outcome.  At least that was one theory flying around the courthouse.