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Michigan lottery winners charged in string of robberies

Sep 4, 2019, 12:13 pm

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Michigan LotteryMichigan Lottery: Michigan lottery winners charged in string of robberiesRating:

Stephanie Harvell's luck seemed to have dried up before she bought a scratch-off lottery ticket in early 2016. She and her husband had recently lost a car, and that same morning, they had received an eviction notice from their home in Bay City, Mich. Then, she scraped away at that ticket and realized she had won $500,000.

"I cried like a baby when I saw what I'd won," Harvell said, according to the Michigan Lottery, adding that she had visions of putting the cash toward a new home and a car.

Instead, she and her husband are sitting in county jail three years later. Police say Harvell, 28, and her husband, Mitchell Arnswald, 29, have been linked to a brazen, months-long burglary spree targeting houses around Michigan.

"There have been so many [breaking-and-entering cases] in the daytime in all these areas. We've had so many," Bay County Sheriff Troy R. Cunningham said. "We believe they could be responsible for more than what we know of."

In January 2016, though, Harvell and Arnswald were an inspirational story in Bay City, a town of nearly 35,000 people near the shores of Lake Huron, about 115 miles north of Detroit. Harvell told Michigan Lottery officials that she and her husband, who have two daughters, had been scraping by paycheck to paycheck.

"We both work really hard, and it's been tough to support our family," she said.

The same day she learned they were getting booted from their home, she stopped in a Speedway gas station and paid $5 for a Hot Jackpot ticket. As she scratched away at the red-and-black numbers, they lined up for the maximum payout.

On Jan. 11, 2016, she and Arnswald posed with a giant novelty check and promised the money would turn their lives around.

"It's hard to find words for what this means to our family, but it couldn't have come at a better time," Harvell told the lottery.

It's not clear what led the pair from a half-million-dollar prize to an alleged crime wave.

Police say an unusual spate of burglaries that began earlier this summer all shared a similar style. The houses were all unoccupied during the crimes, Cunningham said, and they all happened in broad daylight. Since early July, at least a dozen burglaries hit Bay County, the sheriff said, and similar cases were reported in nearby Saginaw, Midland, Arenac, and Tuscola counties as well.

Investigators finally caught a break around 2:30 p.m. on Thursday, after another break-in, this time at a rural residence in Merritt Township, Mich. Police had already pieced together a description of a Ford SUV linked to some of the other burglaries, and they soon spotted a matching vehicle in a grocery store parking lot.

Inside, police said, they found Harvell and Arnswald — as well as items stolen from the Merritt Township house. Armed with a warrant, they later searched Harvell and Arnswald's house in Bay City and found more evidence tied to other burglaries.

Police are still investigating the couple, Cunningham said, and more charges could result. "The different jurisdictions are still getting together to pinpoint which ones we think they committed," he said.

Harvell and Arnswald are far from the first lottery winners to later face serious criminal charges. In fact, so many have either ended up destitute, dead or in jail that some refer to a "lottery curse." That's particularly true for winners with substance abuse or gambling problems, like Jim Hayes, who won $19 million before going broke and robbing banks around California to feed a heroin habit. Another Michigan lottery player, Willie Hurt, was charged with murder two years after winning $3.1 million, a crime allegedly fueled by a cocaine addiction.

For now, Harvell and Arnswald each face one count of second-degree home invasion and possession of burglary tools. It's not clear from court records whether they have an attorney.

A judge set their bonds at $50,000 each. As of Wednesday morning, according to state court records, neither has paid up.

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29 comments. Last comment 2 years ago by cbr$.
Page 1 of 2
United States
Member #163182
January 22, 2015
2623 Posts

Sad story, not for them, but the victims and their two children.


Just wondering where did all the money go?   Could have bought a home or a serious downpayment on one, but no you had to steal from your neighbors.


No pity for me whatsoever.


    United States
    Member #34930
    March 9, 2006
    209 Posts

    What a waste!

    Should have cleared over $300,000.  Even 5% annual yield would be over $1,000 monthly dividends . . potentially enough to at least pay rent.

      Raven62's avatar - binary
      New Jersey
      United States
      Member #17842
      June 28, 2005
      143629 Posts

      Three years later: The $500,000 is gone and they turned to crime instead of work.

      A mind once stretched by a new idea never returns to its original dimensions!

      Catch-22: A dilemma or difficult circumstance from which there is no escape because of mutually conflicting or dependent conditions.

      Corruptissima re publica plurimae leges: When the republic is at its most corrupt the laws are most numerous.

        s5thomps's avatar - Lottery-033.jpg
        Hard Luck, Ak
        United States
        Member #23471
        October 13, 2005
        395 Posts

        Three years later: The $500,000 is gone and they turned to crime instead of work.

        So much for a fresh start... I'm sure drugs are involved somehow. If someone is dealing with a addiction it won't take long to burn through the money once the bills are paid. I'm sure at the time they thought it would last forever. 3 years later and flat broke...not the first persons it happened to and won't be the last. David Lee Edwards is a good example of what not to do.

        I Agree!

        "We make a living by what you get, You make a LIFE by what you give!"

                                                                       Sir Winston ChurchillSun Smiley


          United States
          Member #180546
          March 12, 2017
          215 Posts

          Just buy more tickets and keep winning!  Duh!

          It's Michigan for crying out loud, a state where it's way too easy to win lotteries.

            dpoly1's avatar - driver
            United States
            Member #66139
            October 16, 2008
            1998 Posts

            Dumb Bunnies!


            dpoly1 - Playing the lottery to save the jobs of those that build, transport, sell & maintain luxury items! -


            Eschew Poverty ........... Vote Conservative!

              hearsetrax's avatar - alien on_computer.jpg

              United States
              Member #52343
              May 21, 2007
              3369 Posts

              Dumb Bunnies!


              LOL @ Dpoly1


              surely, nearly any amount of won money will make Jester of anyone 

                BuyLow's avatar - fd725949c52faf3bef0a9e377747408d -iphone-wallpaper-palm-trees.jpg
                United States
                Member #61433
                May 22, 2008
                1227 Posts

                Dumb Bunnies!


                Ur too nice I was gonna say Fumb Ducks!!!!  Banana

                  greatguy's avatar - peace
                  United States
                  Member #198164
                  May 13, 2019
                  107 Posts

                  Wasted Lottery intelligence.Thud

                    United States
                    Member #32651
                    February 14, 2006
                    9207 Posts

                    "Police say Harvell, 28, and her husband, Mitchell Arnswald, 29,"

                    Most married couples share the same last name even if hyphenated; guess it's different for future criminals.

                      reddog's avatar - reddog 20avatar.jpg
                      Durham, North Carolina
                      United States
                      Member #1616
                      June 5, 2003
                      3500 Posts

                      From the facial appearance they look like they haven't long smoked a pipe before getting caught. Confused

                      Taking it one drawing at a time.

                        Rman313's avatar - Lottery-062.jpg
                        Inkster, MI
                        United States
                        Member #142366
                        May 10, 2013
                        6510 Posts


                        You can do anything if you put your mind into it. The sky is the limit! Cool


                          United States
                          Member #183938
                          August 21, 2017
                          2676 Posts

                          I can't even wrap my mind around this story. Sad, Angry. Sad cause they did this, angry cause I would like the opportunity to have that much money at one time. The sure selfishness,I hope they put some away for their children. Maybe in Jail they will find Jesus

                          Don't ever fall in love with a number it will always break ur heart!

                            Chasing $ Millions.
                            White Shores- California
                            United States
                            Member #136471
                            December 12, 2012
                            6678 Posts

                            l can see how Stephanie & Mitch ended up this way. This Bonnie & Clyde duo came into money, lived high & when that money dried up, they just had to continue the lifestyle they felt they had come to love and were serious on maintaining. What these two are trying or telling us is “ No one like being poor..again.” It’s a crying shame.

                             * Voice of Reason *   

                            * The Truth Hurts *

                            People who say it cannot be done should not interrupt those who are doing it- George Bernard Shaw.