Even in the last months of her life, Lorraine Teicht could not fully trust people.
She could never get over how three of her workmates had once turned on her.
Suspicious that she had filched a $5.7 million 6/49 lottery ticket that rightfully belonged to all four, they had hired a private eye to see if her lifestyle had dramatically changed.
"I could not trust them after they came to my house and accused me of stealing the winnings," Teicht wrote on March 11.
"I still do not feel relaxed."
When police finally charged Hafiz Malik in December 2007, the victory was bittersweet and too late. Three and a half years earlier, the Dupont St. convenience kiosk owner had told her that her ticket was not a winner, then went on to claim it as his own.
She had wanted to attend Malik's sentencing hearing at Old City Hall provincial court Thursday to read out her victim impact statement.
But she died of cancer on April 5 at age 56.
For years before they were cheated, she and her three workmates at the Toronto Catholic District School Board — Paul Carlisi and sisters-in-law Silvana and Aurora Pincivero — had happily pooled their money and played the same numbers.
The Ontario Lottery and Gaming Corp. compensated them in December 2007, paying them the $5.7 million they were owed for the winning ticket, plus almost $800,000 in interest.
But her relationship with her friends was damaged beyond repair.
"The people that I would be celebrating with, had this crime not been committed, I can barely make eye contact with now," she wrote.
And the money came too late.
"I spent 3½ years not enjoying what is rightfully mine," she wrote.
Had she received her winnings earlier, she said she could have helped her daughter and son-in-law buy a nice home for the arrival of their first child, and helped two daughters with their post-secondary educations.
Both she and her husband could have retired, which would have dramatically lessened the stress in their lives, she wrote.
"We would not have had to work our stressful jobs and could have spent more time with family and friends," she added.
"Time is a commodity that simply cannot be banked."
Malik, 63, has admitted to stealing the winning 6/49 lottery ticket in June 2004 that Teicht had purchased in Orillia days earlier on behalf of her group.
In December, he pleaded guilty to defrauding the group and the Ontario Lottery and Gaming Corp.
Crown prosecutor Philip Perlmutter asked Justice Rebecca Shamai to impose a 2½-year penitentiary sentence for the former convenience store owner.
"This is a large-scale, deliberate breach of trust fraud, not an act of impulse," he said.
Defence lawyer John Filiberto called for a conditional sentence of two years less a day, to be served in the community. "It is readily apparent that he is sorry for what he did."
Dressed in a black jacket and tan slacks, the grey-haired Malik listened quietly to submissions.
"I'm ashamed and remorseful for what I did," Malik told the judge through an interpreter. "Just give me one more chance so I can live an honourable life with my family."
After Malik misled Teicht about the ticket, he hung onto it for seven months before claiming it as his own at the OLG offices in January 2005.
He then went on a spending spree: moving from his modest Toronto apartment into a $1 million mansion in Mississauga and buying three luxury cars.
In February 2006, one of the bona fide winners checked the lottery numbers and discovered their usual picks had come up. At first the three school board employees turned their suspicions on Teicht.
But Teicht was finally able to allay their mistrust after she recalled checking her tickets at Malik's tiny convenience kiosk on Dupont St.
"I frequently went into Malik's store and trusted him when he told me that I had no winning tickets," she wrote. "I never thought he would lie to me about something so important."
When the group approached the lottery corporation in early 2007 with their suspicions about Malik, the Ontario Provincial Police were called in to investigate.
Thursday the judge ordered the forfeiture of Malik's ill-gotten property, worth an estimated $6.1 million.
Goods to be seized include his jewellery, a Land Rover, a Mercedes-Benz car and a 4,781-square-foot Prince John Blvd. home in Mississauga's affluent Sherwood Forest neighbourhood, near Erin Mills Pkwy. and the QEW.
That leaves a shortfall of some $450,000, at least a portion of which Perlmutter asked he be made to repay through a restitution order.
The judge will sentence Malik on June 15.
(Click to display full-size in gallery)