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Cheated lottery winner files lawsuit

May 31, 2011, 4:01 pm

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Texas LotteryTexas Lottery: Cheated lottery winner files lawsuit

A Dallas-area man who Travis County prosecutors say had his $1 million lottery ticket stolen by a convenience store clerk in 2009 has sued the Texas Lottery Commission and others in hopes of recovering all of his winnings.

Lawyers for Willis Willis, a retired Grand Prairie maintenance man, filed the suit in state District Court in Travis County last week against the lottery commission, GTECH Corp, which runs the lottery, and the owner of a convenience store where Willis bought his ticket.

Also sued was Pankaj Joshi, a college student who authorities say fled the country for his native Nepal in 2009, around the time authorities in Austin say they discovered that he took Willis' winning ticket and cashed it in at lottery headquarters in Austin.

Joshi did not tell Willis he'd hit the jackpot and pocketed the ticket after Willis gave it to him at the counter of Lucky Food Store #2, officials said.

Joshi has been indicted on a felony charge of claiming a lottery ticket by fraud. Austin police and Travis County prosecutors recovered about $395,000 from his bank accounts and a judge declared Willis the rightful owner of that money. Joshi received $750,000 after taxes were withheld.

With his lawsuit, Willis is demanding the rest of the jackpot and other unspecified damages.

Willis' lawyers have previously asked a judge to allow them to ask lottery officials and others questions under oath to gather information for a possible lawsuit. That request is awaiting a ruling on an appeal filed by lottery officials.

During a short hearing before state District Judge Suzanne Covington last year, Assistant Attorney General Gaston Broyles, who represents the Lottery Commission, said that a prize may not be paid twice, that a lottery ticket is a "bearer instrument" and that lottery officials are not responsible for lost or stolen tickets.

"Mr. Joshi was the bearer of that ticket," Broyles said.

Willis' lawyers have argued that it is absurd that lottery officials believe that Joshi is the winner while Austin police, Travis County prosecutors and a criminal court judge have ruled that Willis is the rightful winner.

"It has taken two years too long to pay Mr. Willis the money owed him," Sean Breen, one of Willis' lawyers, said in a statement. "We simply want the Texas Lottery or the store to pay him the money that its own agent stole."

While it offers no examples, Willis' lawsuit claims that the lottery "has been plagued by theft and corruption from store clerks (and) vendors/agents of the lottery."

Because they are not required to register with the state, store clerks are not scrutinized when presenting themselves as lottery winners, the suit said.

"While the Texas Lottery touts itself as secure to the public, it is not," the suit said.

News story photo(Click to display full-size in gallery)

Austin American-Statesman

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63 comments. Last comment 10 years ago by rdgrnr.
Page 1 of 5
Kidzmom's avatar - cold
NC
United States
Member #11741
February 23, 2005
1234 Posts
Offline

I was wondering when he was going to do that, I just seen it again on Lottery Changed my Life. I hope everything works out for Mr. Willis.

Be kind to a stranger because you never know when you are talking to an angel.Blue Angel

 

KZM

    OldSchoolPa's avatar - Lottery-057.jpg
    Gurnee, Illinois
    United States
    Member #49729
    February 12, 2007
    951 Posts
    Offline

    Do I detect a bit of sarcasm in Mr. Willis' photo?  Dirty cholera bagging Nepalese dude.

    Get MONEY!!! Winning a JACKPOT lottery is one  MIRACLE I desire for 2019!!!  NOW come to my subconscious mind you 6 winning numbers!US Flag

      dallascowboyfan's avatar - chi
      Oklahoma
      United States
      Member #82389
      November 12, 2009
      6371 Posts
      Offline

      about time Mr. Willis.....Thumbs Up

        NoShame's avatar - Lottery-030.jpg
        Indiana
        United States
        Member #104848
        January 21, 2011
        159 Posts
        Offline

        It's a shame...but the fact of the matter is he didn't sign the back of his ticket.  So the lack of solid proof that the stolen winning ticket was his is why the Lotto folk held back in paying him full.

        So we have learned two lessons from this incident:

        1. NEVER let another person check your ticket.  The Internet exists for a reason.

        However if you really can't access the Internet and need someone to check the ticket...

        2. ALWAYS ALWAYS ALWAYS sign the back of your ticket!

          hearsetrax's avatar - alien on_computer.jpg

          United States
          Member #52343
          May 21, 2007
          3388 Posts
          Offline

          It's a shame...but the fact of the matter is he didn't sign the back of his ticket.  So the lack of solid proof that the stolen winning ticket was his is why the Lotto folk held back in paying him full.

          So we have learned two lessons from this incident:

          1. NEVER let another person check your ticket.  The Internet exists for a reason.

          However if you really can't access the Internet and need someone to check the ticket...

          2. ALWAYS ALWAYS ALWAYS sign the back of your ticket!

          Twitchwell the gag is often just that and everyone should know that ....

          but obviously not everyone has access nore realize thars more then a few places like thar local library offers it or feels they have any use for it and or lack the interest 

          as for signing the ticket thats a no brainer

            sandia's avatar - disney24

            United States
            Member #107761
            March 13, 2011
            197 Posts
            Offline

            It's a shame...but the fact of the matter is he didn't sign the back of his ticket.  So the lack of solid proof that the stolen winning ticket was his is why the Lotto folk held back in paying him full.

            So we have learned two lessons from this incident:

            1. NEVER let another person check your ticket.  The Internet exists for a reason.

            However if you really can't access the Internet and need someone to check the ticket...

            2. ALWAYS ALWAYS ALWAYS sign the back of your ticket!

              While you are at it:

             

            3. ALWAYS ALWAYS ALWAYS make extra photocopies, preferrably of the SIGNED ticket.....that would definitely put a nice firewall on would be gas station clerk thieves!

              ttech10's avatar - blobdude
              Texas
              United States
              Member #92326
              June 5, 2010
              887 Posts
              Offline

              Joshi has been indicted on a felony charge of claiming a lottery ticket by fraud. Austin police and Travis County prosecutors recovered about $395,000 from his bank accounts and a judge declared Willis the rightful owner of that money. Joshi received $750,000 after taxes were withheld.

               

              During a short hearing before state District Judge Suzanne Covington last year, Assistant Attorney General Gaston Broyles, who represents the Lottery Commission, said that a prize may not be paid twice, that a lottery ticket is a "bearer instrument" and that lottery officials are not responsible for lost or stolen tickets.

              "Mr. Joshi was the bearer of that ticket," Broyles said.

               

              They say that Joshi was the bearer of the ticket as if to say that it's his money because his name was on the ticket, but it's obvious per the earlier paragraph where they mention that money was recovered from one of Joshi's accounts and given to Willis that they believe Willis is the owner of the ticket. I think they should just give him the $355,000 that Joshi got away with, but I do think they have a good argument in that they're not responsible for lost/stolen tickets. It's a tough situation.

                HaveABall's avatar - rocket

                United States
                Member #72446
                March 18, 2009
                1391 Posts
                Offline

                Joshi has been indicted on a felony charge of claiming a lottery ticket by fraud. Austin police and Travis County prosecutors recovered about $395,000 from his bank accounts and a judge declared Willis the rightful owner of that money. Joshi received $750,000 after taxes were withheld.

                 

                During a short hearing before state District Judge Suzanne Covington last year, Assistant Attorney General Gaston Broyles, who represents the Lottery Commission, said that a prize may not be paid twice, that a lottery ticket is a "bearer instrument" and that lottery officials are not responsible for lost or stolen tickets.

                "Mr. Joshi was the bearer of that ticket," Broyles said.

                 

                They say that Joshi was the bearer of the ticket as if to say that it's his money because his name was on the ticket, but it's obvious per the earlier paragraph where they mention that money was recovered from one of Joshi's accounts and given to Willis that they believe Willis is the owner of the ticket. I think they should just give him the $355,000 that Joshi got away with, but I do think they have a good argument in that they're not responsible for lost/stolen tickets. It's a tough situation.

                I Agree! ttech10.  The TX Lottery Commission (they have the available funds) should have paid Mr. Willis the remaining $355K two years ago.  It would have been strong press for them advertising that though the ticket back wasn't filled out by Mr. Willis, they have chosen to support the law enforcement and judicial court's proof of theft.  However, maybe there are so many cases of unregistered clerk theft, just like this, that they can't set this as a precedence.

                Now, with all the work the lawyers did, Mr. Willis would require tens of thousands of dollars more to reimburse his lawyers.  What a sad, painful, and frustrating retirement time.

                Having several millions of dollars in my financial accounts means receiving several valuable services each day!

                Disney

                  grwurston's avatar - Lottery-062.jpg
                  Same #'s, different games.
                  Here
                  United States
                  Member #90247
                  April 24, 2010
                  10556 Posts
                  Online

                  Joshi has been indicted on a felony charge of claiming a lottery ticket by fraud. Austin police and Travis County prosecutors recovered about $395,000 from his bank accounts and a judge declared Willis the rightful owner of that money. Joshi received $750,000 after taxes were withheld.

                   

                  During a short hearing before state District Judge Suzanne Covington last year, Assistant Attorney General Gaston Broyles, who represents the Lottery Commission, said that a prize may not be paid twice, that a lottery ticket is a "bearer instrument" and that lottery officials are not responsible for lost or stolen tickets.

                  "Mr. Joshi was the bearer of that ticket," Broyles said.

                   

                  They say that Joshi was the bearer of the ticket as if to say that it's his money because his name was on the ticket, but it's obvious per the earlier paragraph where they mention that money was recovered from one of Joshi's accounts and given to Willis that they believe Willis is the owner of the ticket. I think they should just give him the $355,000 that Joshi got away with, but I do think they have a good argument in that they're not responsible for lost/stolen tickets. It's a tough situation.

                  I recently saw a tv show about crooked lottery clerks on you tube ( may have been dateline) but they had video from the stores cameras showing people buying the ticket and the clerk taking it. They used tickets that were they knew were winners.

                  They were able to prove the clerks took the ticket, the time the ticket was sold originally, and who bought it from the lottery computer system plus the stores video. I don't know why they couldn't do that in this case.

                   Besides signing the ticket, the best thing to do would be to ask the clerk for a print out of the winning numbers for that date and check the tickets yourself.

                  The lottery is the same. 

                  https://youtu.be/b5-iJUuPWis

                    HoLeeKau's avatar - 40827 jpg?1576607320
                    Idaho
                    United States
                    Member #94279
                    July 17, 2010
                    2394 Posts
                    Offline

                    I would think the only way they could hold the lottery commission liable is if they knew this is a regular occurrence and they have failed to institute better safeguards.  Otherwise, I think the store should be liable for the guy's money.  It was their employee who stole it in the line of his work.

                    What could lotteries do to keep this from happening so often?  I wish the machine would print a receipt every time a ticket was checked that is given to the player.  That wouldn't help occasional players tho, who wouldn't know to demand the receipt.  Plus I guess a clerk could keep a $2 winner receipt handy and switch it with a receipt for a bigger win.  The player would only know if they checked the time stamp on the receipt closely.  There's gotta be a better way.

                    The Idaho lottery prints a receipt for any winning tickets that are scanned, but it's not given to the player.  It's stapled to the ticket and put in a box.  That tells them the correct amount was paid out, but it doesn't give a clue who it was paid to.  The clerk could easily take the money themselves which doesn't do a bit of good.


                      United States
                      Member #108375
                      March 25, 2011
                      505 Posts
                      Offline

                      willis willis committed a grievous error due to his laziness and it cost him..why play the lottery if you aren't able or willing to check your own numbers. if no computer check newspaper or find  store that records them on monthly sheet on lottery stand...somehow find a way to do it yourself.  you can't trust an 8.00 an hour clerk who are just waiting for this opportunity...on a smaller scale it's done on unsuspecting scratch ticket players too lazy to read their prize.. they hand the ticket to the clerk he give them 20 instead of 200 for example and pockets the difference... happens every  day... wake up players...

                        ttech10's avatar - blobdude
                        Texas
                        United States
                        Member #92326
                        June 5, 2010
                        887 Posts
                        Offline

                        I recently saw a tv show about crooked lottery clerks on you tube ( may have been dateline) but they had video from the stores cameras showing people buying the ticket and the clerk taking it. They used tickets that were they knew were winners.

                        They were able to prove the clerks took the ticket, the time the ticket was sold originally, and who bought it from the lottery computer system plus the stores video. I don't know why they couldn't do that in this case.

                         Besides signing the ticket, the best thing to do would be to ask the clerk for a print out of the winning numbers for that date and check the tickets yourself.

                        The Chris Hansen thing? I remember there were quite a few on there that would throw the ticket away then pick it out of the trash when the customer left or only give the person $2-$3.

                        And yea I've mentioned numerous times that people should check tickets themselves online if they have access and if not either scan it themselves in store or ask for a winning number printout (most stores have them already printed out). Personally I don't want the clerk to know that I'm the one who won so letting them verify tickets for me is a definite no. I'd still want to go there afterwards so I'd play off my win by still playing the games that didn't win (ie; play PB if MM won).

                          sully16's avatar - sharan
                          25
                          Dr.President Elect
                          Michigan
                          United States
                          Member #81738
                          October 28, 2009
                          89792 Posts
                          Offline

                          Best wishes Mr. Willis, I hope you win.Cheers

                           US Flag

                            LANTERN's avatar - kilroy 28_173_reasonably_small.jpg
                            Tx
                            United States
                            Member #4570
                            May 4, 2004
                            5180 Posts
                            Offline

                            Thru the years so many store clerks have stolen lottery prizes and the state lotteries have failed to prevent it, they have not even tried, that is until now, they have put machines in the stores where people can by themselves check their own tickets.

                            If at the time that the ticket was stolen those machines where already there then the state lottery is clean, that is not at fault, otherwise they are at fault and should pay not just for the rest of the money, but also for interest on it and for all the trouble and anguish that the winner had to endure and also pay for all the legal fees and any other fees that apply.

                            Nowdays if you don't check your own ticket first, too bad, you yourself should be at fault, cause once you know that you won then you should sign the ticket, before you give it to anybody.

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