SYRACUSE, N.Y. — An appeals court shortened the prison term for lottery-ticket thief Andy Ashkar by at least three-and-a-half years, reducing a sentence imposed by a judge because it was "unduly harsh and severe."
In a decision filed on Friday, the Supreme Court Appellate Division's Fourth Judicial Department shortened Ashkar's total sentence to between five and 15 years, the amount requested by Assistant District Attorney Beth Van Doren in 2013.
Onondaga County Court Judge Joseph E. Fahey, offended by the greed Askhar had shownin his theft of a $5 million lottery ticket, had gone further than the district attorney had asked, imposing the maximum allowable penalty, between eight-and-a-half years and 25 years to jail.
"Mr. Ashkar, let me tell you something," Fahey said at Ashkar's sentencing in July of 2013. "You exhibited some of the most rapacious greed I've seen in a long, long time. ... You took advantage of somebody who was weak, somebody who was vulnerable, somebody who was confused. Your conduct as far as I'm concerned was nothing short of predatory."
(See NY man gets maximum sentence for stolen $5M lottery ticket, Lottery Post, July 23, 2013.)
Ashkar's family owns Green Ale Market on East Fayette Street in Syracuse. When Robert Miles attempted to redeem his $5 million winning ticket at the store in 2006, Ashkar told him the ticket was only worth $5,000. Ashkar took $1,000 of that, telling Miles it was the store's cut of the winnings.
Brothers Andy and Nayel attempted to redeem the ticket themselves in 2012. Andy was found guilty of criminal possession of stolen property, his brother was acquitted of the same charge, and their father pleaded guilty of filing a false instrument in the first degree after claiming the ticket belonged to his sons in interviews with lottery officials.
(See One brother convicted, one acquitted in $5M lottery trial, Lottery Post, May 1, 2013.)
In shortening Fahey's punishment, the Appellate Division cited the fact that Andy Askhar had no prior criminal history and his crime did not involve violence or threats.
Ashkar also attempted to appeal the guilty verdict based on a lack of evidence and an ineffective counsel. The court rejected both those claims.