A former convenience store owner who cheated a customer out of a $5.7 million lottery ticket has been sentenced to a year in jail.
Hafiz Malik, 63, sat quietly as Ontario provincial court Justice Rebecca Shamai pronounced sentence Tuesday at Old City Hall courthouse in downtown Toronto.
Dressed in a black T-shirt and grey slacks, the white-haired Malik listened intently to the judge's reasons.
In December, Malik had pleaded to fraud.
He admitted to tricking a customer, Lorraine Teicht, out of a winning 6/49 ticket in June 2004.Teicht had for years had been playing the lottery with three workmates at the Toronto Catholic District School Board, playing the same numbers.
Teicht checked the ticket, on behalf of the group, at Malik's tiny kiosk on Dupont St.
But he told her it was worth only $10, and hung on to it himself, the judge said.
After the fraud was uncovered by Teicht's group and investigated by Ontario Provincial Police, the Ontario Lottery and Gaming Corp. compensated them for the ticket, plus $800,000 in interest.
Teicht wrote a poignant victim impact statement and wanted to attend Malik's sentencing hearing in April, but the 56-year-old woman died of cancer just days earlier.
At first her three co-workers suspected her of cheating them out of their share, leading to a deterioration of her relationship with them and leaving her unable to fully trust people, she wrote in a victim impact statement.
Malik hung onto the ticket before claiming it as his own 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 a Land Rover and a Mercedes.
In February 2006, one of the bona fide winners in Teicht's group checked the lottery numbers and discovered their usual picks had come up. The group began to investigate, at first suspecting Teicht.
Crown prosecutor Philip Perlmutter had called for a 2½-year penitentiary sentence for Malik, stating that he was motivated by greed.
Defence lawyer John Filiberto called for a conditional sentence of two years less a day, to be served in the community saying that his client is sorry for what he did.
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