Man charged with forging lottery ticket claims it was a joke

Apr 6, 2006, 11:42 am (36 comments)

Pennsylvania Lottery

A Pennsylvania man charged with forging a winning lottery ticket in October was only playing a joke on a coworker, his defense attorney said today.

That joke, attorney Stephen Ellwood said, was merely "that (James A. Koons Jr.) wanted someone to find it and think it was real."

And that someone — Brian Scott Miller, 34, of Pheasant Drive South in North Middleton Township — now faces charges after he allegedly found the ticket at the Middlesex Township trucking firm where he worked and tried to cash it.

When Miller showed up at Pennsylvania Lottery's headquarters in Middletown, he brought three coworkers from Roadway Express.

The four were part of an 18-member group of employees who played Powerball every day, buying tickets at various stores around Carlisle. On Oct. 21, they showed up with what appeared to be a "second-tier" winner worth $853,942.

Officials took the ticket and, as standard procedure, told Miller he would be contacted in four to six weeks.

In reality, though, the lotto official turned the ticket over to security, saying "that the ticket felt funny and might not be official," authorities say.

A few quick tests confirmed that it was neither official nor purchased locally.

An undercover agent with the Pennsylvania Attorney General's Office set up a sting and had Miller come in to collect a check. Instead, Miller was given a fake check and promptly arrested.

It was only after the ticket was traced to a store in Koons' hometown of Hegins that authorities began to pursue others' involvement in the scam.

In grainy surveillance footage shown at today's hearing, officials showed a man — subsequently identified as Koons — pulling the bogus ticket out of his pocket and sliding it under a newspaper left on the table at Roadway's break room.

Five minutes later, Miller sat down at his usual table and, like he did every day, checked his tickets against the printed winning numbers. Below the paper, he found a ticket with five of the six numbers matched from the night before.

At the time of his arrest, Miller was charged with forgery and attempted theft by deception. The net sentence, had he been convicted, was up to 14 years in prison.

It was only after more leads surfaced that authorities changed the charges to making unsworn falsification, which carries a two-year maximum.

At the same time, Koons was charged with forgery, unlawful use of a computer and tampering with a public record.

The other 17 members of the pool are cleared of any wrongdoing, authorities say.

Among the evidence presented today was testimony that Koons had, shortly after Miller was arrested, attempted to wipe clean his computer's hard drive. A state police computer forensic specialist was still able to locate six thumbnail pictures of a scanned lottery ticket on the computer that police seized.

By scanning a real lottery ticket and "cutting and pasting" numbers over top of the real ones, Koons created not one but three of the fake tickets, authorities say. He told authorities he subsequently tossed one of the tickets and left the other two in Roadway's break room, where Miller found one.

At today's hearing, District Judge Susan Day forwarded all charges to Cumberland County Court. If convicted, Koons could face up to 10 years in prison.

Miller is awaiting a May trial in Dauphin County.

Both remain free on bail.

Carlisle Sentinel

Comments

CASH Only

I guess this joke backfired big time. Maybe it should have been a fake Unlucky for Life ticket.

bluedog's avatarbluedog

Even though this guy seems to be a practical joker he should still be prosecuted for forgery it's the law.
This hopefully will teach him a lesson

tony95

What a Jerk-Ass, I hope he rots in prison.

SassyOhio's avatarSassyOhio

What would he have done if that poor man had a heart condition and had a heart attack after all this crap  I  think that the law is doing the right thing

DoubleDown

I'm a little curious about the 4-to 6 week wait.

Is this standard protocol for cashing a winning ticket in PA, or was it part of the investigation once the lottery commision saw the ticket ?

I mean, if the ticket was real, would one have to wait 4 to 6 weeks ???

DD

RJOh's avatarRJOh

This should be a lesson to all, "Never cash in a lottery ticket you didn't buy".

Blueraider

 I think was part of the investigation once the lottery commision saw the ticket, cause normally, they will just write you a check.

NCPicks

It's my understanding that,depending on the prize tier,it can take that long to get your money.It's absolutely true if you win the Powerball or MM.They have to collect monies from all the states in that group.It takes time to get the money from those states,so the waiting period.

Lurk More N00b's avatarLurk More N00b

I'm sure "Bubba" and "Leroy" will have a few funny jokes of their own to show this guy when he gets to prison. Love

atl1

don't play with dreams, send him to jail

libra926

I'm sure "Bubba" and "Leroy" will have a few funny jokes of their own to show this guy when he gets to prison. Love

4/6/2006

lolololololol........now , that's funny.....I'm lovin it....lololololololol

libra926

It's my understanding that,depending on the prize tier,it can take that long to get your money.It's absolutely true if you win the Powerball or MM.They have to collect monies from all the states in that group.It takes time to get the money from those states,so the waiting period.

4/6/2006

But, can we start spending the money, as soon as the Lottery officials write the check??

How soon can you start spending the money.....I guess it's safer to wait until after you have personally pushed the button that electronically deposits the money to your account...I do not know I am just guessing, but I welcome anyone's imput on that ?????

What?

justxploring's avatarjustxploring

 "Miller is awaiting a May trial in Dauphin County."

 Am I misunderstanding this?  Why would the man who found the ticket be charged once it was established that he was fooled by a scam?  That doesn't make any sense to me. Remember the man in MA who found a ticket in the trash and then someone said he accidentally threw it away? If the ticket was fake and just a prank, it would have simply been an honest mistake, right?  I don't know why someone who finds what he thinks is a legitimate winning ticket would go to jail. I think it's really stupid to think that, by some miracle, you found a winning ticket and he deserves to be punished just for being an idiot, but technically I really don't think he's a criminal.

A former neighbor of mine (thank goodness for the "former" part) once gave me a scratch ticket that said I won a million bucks. It looked very real, but I know better. Some people who aren't lottery players don't.  In fact, he told me he's fooled a lot of people.

"The four were part of an 18-member group of employees who played Powerball every day, buying tickets at various stores around Carlisle. On Oct. 21, they showed up with what appeared to be a "second-tier" winner worth $853,942."

Again, I don't think Mr. Miller was trying to be a crook or fool anyone, especially since he shared his good fortune with his fellow co-workers. Koons, on the other hand, should be punished for the prank and for practically ruining the life of his coworker and also to discourage future acts of fraud, although compared to child rapists and murderers, it's not a major felony.

 

justxploring's avatarjustxploring

"But, can we start spending the money, as soon as the Lottery officials write the check??"

 

Good question, Libra!  Before claiming my prize I would definitely give notice and move out of my apartment, but I'd need money to live on. Maybe that's why people always say to act normally, don't tell anyone, and keep your job, but I'd probably just use my Visa for a month. I always assumed it would be available a few days after the money was claimed, but I guess I was wrong. 4 to 6 weeks seems like a long time if that's a normal delay. Sounds as if they want to run a person's credit history and criminal background. In this day where everything is wired electronically, I would think 5 to 7 days would be enough time to transfer any amount of money.

 

First article: The Powerball jackpot continues to climb. Even though the grand prize was not hit Wednesday evening, 853,497 players across the nation won a total of more than $7.5 million in prizes in "America's Game".

Second article: "...they showed up with what appeared to be a "second-tier" winner worth $853,942."

 

 

Notice that the number in the 2 articles posted are almost identical? 

 

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