James A. Koons Jr.'s practical joke backfired in a big way.
According to his attorney, the Hegins man thought it would be funny to fake a $853,496 winning Powerball ticket and leave it underneath a newspaper in the break room at the Roadway Express terminal in Middlesex Twp.
Instead of a laugh, Koons — and an unwitting co-worker — ended up in a legal mess.
Yesterday, Cumberland County President Judge Edgar B. Bayley sentenced Koons, 38, to 12 months of probation and fined him $2,500 for forgery and tampering with public records.
He still faces the prospect of having to pay more than $12,000 in legal bills for former co-worker Brian S. Miller, 35, of North Middleton Twp., who was arrested when he tried to collect on the bogus ticket.
"He created that ticket as a joke," said Koons' attorney Stephen Ellwood. "In fact, he created two tickets. Whoever found the other one tossed it in the trash.
"It was intended to get a reaction from someone, and then [Koons] would burst their bubble," Ellwood said. "In hindsight, it was a terrible joke."
Miller wasn't targeted for the joke, Ellwood said. Miller and Koons worked different shifts and didn't really know each other, he said.
According to the attorney general's office, Koons made the fake ticket on his home computer and planted it at Roadway — where he no longer works — in November 2005.
Miller, 35, was arrested after presenting the forgery at lottery commission headquarters in Lower Swatara Twp.
"It had as much chance of being accepted by the lottery commission as I do of going to the moon next month?" Bayley asked.
"Yes, your honor," Deputy Attorney General George Zaiser said.
Miller was charged with making an unsworn falsification to authorities after he told investigators he had bought the ticket, Zaiser said.
A Dauphin County jury acquitted him in May. Zaiser was the prosecutor.
Miller, who ran a lottery pool at Roadway, claimed during his trial that he thought he had dropped the bogus ticket while sorting through lottery tickets.
Yesterday, Zaiser argued that Koons should be ordered to cover Miller's legal bills because his prank got Miller into trouble.
Ellwood countered that Miller caused his own problems by lying.
Bayley said he'll hold a hearing on the compensation issue later.
"I'm sorry for what everybody went through," said Koons, who pleaded guilty to the charges that were filed against him.
Miller, who watched Koons' sentencing, referred questions to his lawyer, Robert Daniels.
"Nobody has ever apologized. No one is willing to take responsibility. And Brian's left holding the bag," Daniels said. "This shouldn't happen to anybody."
Oh the tangled web we weave when we try to deceive.
Very sad story indeed.
Sad??? It couldn't be funnier... Wanna jackpot - buy your own tickets and don't lie.
Brian S. Miller had to know the ticket didn't belong to him when he found it unless he subscribes to the "finders keep and losers weep" rule. Under that rule the finders should keep everything including the troubles that come with lying to cover up that it belongs to someone else.
He made no effort to find its rightful owner until after he was arrested and charged with trying to pass a forgery.
Can't you just see the egg fried ALL OVER his face!? And now he balks... just deserts and should be a lesson well learned!
Again, it was a joke, but a dishonest person got duped. He (Miller) should be responsible for his own crafty greediness. He IS responsible for what HE did. Well HE SHOULD TAKE the responsibility.
Another legal terminology for what Koons did is..Entrapment. Deliberately planting an item in order for an illegal activity to transpire. Enticing a person....
I hope Miller does learn a lesson though on being careful with ticket claims...
Im still waiting for the punch line because I didnt really get the first part of the supposed *joke*...
I bet he'll learn this lesson n a costy 1
What Koons did isn't entrapment, even ignoring the fact that entrapment can only be committed law enforcement officers or those working as their agents. By all accounts, Koons didn't intend for the person who found the ticket to make a claim, and he did nothing to persuade Miller to file the claim and make a false statement. The available evidence also says that Miller made a legitimate mistake in thinking the altered ticlet was one that he had bought. Assuming he bought quickpicks, or used numbers supplied by others and didn't check the ticket against them, it's entirely possible that he made an honest, if not overly bright, mistake. It's entirely possible that the two of them planned to claim the fake ticket and use the story only if the ticket was discovered to be fake, but there's absolutely no evidence for that based on news reports. The only reason prosecutors filed charges against them is that not filing charges would basically offer a free pass to everyone who wanted to see if they could get paid with a fake ticket.
Maybe it me, when you find something on the ground outside how many of you go looking for the owner ? That lottery ticket is just like finding a wallet with no identifcation inside of it, but yet the wallet contains $8,000 in cash are you going to look for a owner ? NO ! Same wallet with identifcation are you returning the wallet with the $8,000 in it most people are not. So my point is this Mr. Miller you was the one wanting to claim the Jackpot, eventho you knew the ticket wasn't yours. Well, next time claim your own tickets or just say hey I found this one is it a real ticket ?
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