Andy Ashkar testifies in final day of the lottery ticket trial
By Alex Dunbar
Fri, 26 Apr 2013 17:09:11 GMT — The fifth and final day of trial for two brothers charged with stealing a winning $5 million scratch-off lottery ticket focused on Andy Ashkar??s testimony. Defense attorneys say they do not expect a verdict for at least a week.The brothers, Andy and Nayel Ashkar, are accused of stealing the winning ticket from Robert Miles who may have bought it at the Syracuse store owned by the siblings' father, the Green Ale Market in Syracuse.Andy Ashkar testified Friday that he didn??t steal the ticket or have any contact with Miles.Ashkar said that when they looked at the ticket and realized they won, "We started hugging each other, we were excited, what anyone would do when they won that kind of money." He said he decided to split the ticket with his brother Nayel.Ashkar said that right after he scratched off the ticket and realized he won, he started driving to the lotto office, but says he then thought to himself, "Let me sit back and think before I do this."Ashkar said he waited 2 years to tell his wife about uncashed ticket. Ashkar testified that he waited five years to cash in the $5 million lottery ticket because, "I had a lot going on."Ashkar said he withdrew $2,000 from his bank account on the day that he bought the lotto ticket so that he and his brother could celebrate.When asked why he told Lottery officials he would have been willing to take a lesser amount in exchange for remaining anonymous, Ashkar said it was to protect his family. He said he chose to go to the Schenectady office because, he said, "I felt like if we went to the one in Syracuse, the press would blow everything up. Security was my main concern."When the defense attorney asked if the lottery ticket would have substantially changed Ashkar's life, Ashkar said "No."Ashkar said the lottery ticket would have given him and his brother about $80,000 each year after taxes. Ashkar's job at a car dealership paid $150,000 in 2012.Ashkar was unemployed in 2006 when it??s alleged he stole the ticket.In 2007, Ashkar applied for and received Medicaid benefits for his family, even though he had the $5 million lottery ticket. Ashkar said he didn't tell the state about the $5 million lottery ticket when applying for Medicaid because, he said, "I filled out the form quickly."Defense Attorney Robert Durr said the prosecutions witnesses supporting Robert Miles as the real owner of the ticket were not credible. "Our position is that people fabricated the proposition," said Durr. Durr added that he believed Miles' story was too inconsistent to be taken seriously and that the prosecution's case was "relying on Robert Miles recolection of events from six years ago when he was a crackhead." Assistant District Attorney Beth Van Doren said she believed Miles and his co-workers remembered enough specific details to show that their story was true. "There is no question that on that day he had that ticket in his hand," said Van Doren of Miles. Van Doren admitted that Miles drug problem may have affected the way he acted that day but that Miles brought the ticket back to a store he trusted to see what it was worth. "If he was thinking clearly that day, would he ever have let that ticket go?" asked Van Doren. Van Doren said that it was the Ashkar's story that was not credible and that trying to redeem the ticket anonymously after a five year wait showed that their story was full of holes."It just didn't make sense other than that they were waiting for time to pass so witnesses would not be around, documents would be lost or the statute of limitations would pass," said Van Doren outside the courtroom. Thursday??s testimony centered one of Mile??s co-workers who says he was with Miles when he bought the ticket at the Ashkar??s store. Testimony heard on Wednesday focused on Miles, man who claims he was the actual lottery winner. Miles testified that he remembered buying the ticket and said he immediately it was worth $5 million but claims Andy Ashkar told him it was only worth $5,000, and that Andy said he would cash it for Miles. Testimony heard on Tuesday focused on the way the New York Lottery handled the Ashkar's winning claim, when they came forward in March, 2012, just two weeks after the rights to the prize would have expired.Their fate is in the hands of a judge as this week's trial in Onondaga County Court is a bench trial.Their father, Nayef Ashkar, is accused of helping his sons and was arraigned in March on two counts of with fourth degree conspiracy.
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