Former convenience store clerk gets a total of three years' probation for theft and fraud
By Kate Northrop
PORTAGE, Wisc. — Jessica N. Surratt, 32, of Eau Claire, Wisconsin was sentenced on Tuesday to two years of probation after pleading guilty to fraud for cashing a winning ticket worth $25,000.
This is in addition to the one year of probation she was initially handed for the theft of tickets back in 2018.
On June 16, 2018, Surratt stole nine scratch-off lottery tickets from the Portage Market Basket store at which she worked. One of those tickets was a $25,000 winner. She claimed the lottery prize and was awarded $15,822 after taxes.
On the morning of June 21, a representative from the Wisconsin State Lottery visited the convenience store to tell the manager that a $25,000 winning lottery ticket had been sold there. The manager recalled that Surratt had worked the previous Saturday night and Sunday morning, but then suspiciously called in sick the following days.
The store manager called the Portage Police Department that evening and informed investigators.
A customer who witnessed Surratt hiding the tickets at the store told Portage police that she saw her tear several scratch-off lottery tickets off their rolls and stuff them under the counter. The witness took note of the tickets Surratt snatched: two worth $30, two $5, and five $2 tickets.
In September 2018, Surratt received one year of probation for retail theft.
The state Department of Revenue filed a complaint against Surratt for claiming the prize. The complaint cites Surratt meeting with State Capitol Police Detective Mark Ellington at the Eau Claire County Jail in October 2019. There, she admitted to signing the claim form and cashing the prize money check.
Surratt was then charged on Dec. 2, 2019 with fraudulent writings and uttering a forgery for claiming the prize she won with the stolen "One Million Now" scratch-off ticket. She was arrested by Portage police for theft and later pleaded no contest to misdemeanor retail theft.
As a repeat offender, Surratt originally faced up to eight years of combined prison and extended supervision on each charge.
A forgery charge against Surratt was dismissed as part of a plea deal. The agreement led Assistant District Attorney Dan Hess and state Assistant Public Defender Svetlana Taylor to recommend a two-year probation to Dane County Circuit Judge John Hyland, in addition to the one-year probation that Surrat had already received in 2018 for retail theft.
With regard to the sentence, Hyland noted that the probation outcome was an appropriate consequence that allowed Surratt to take "timely responsibility."