Day 2 of lottery ticket trial focuses on Lotteryâ??s handling of the Ashkar brothersâ?? claim
By Laura Hand
Tue, 23 Apr 2013 17:02:09 GMT — The trial of two brothers charged with stealing a winning $5 million scratch-off lottery ticket from the man who may have bought it at the Syracuse store owned by the siblings' father continued into its second day on Tuesday.Prosecutors say the brothers took the winning ticket from a customer, Robert Miles, who bought it at their father's convenience store in October 2006. The father's store is the Green Ale Market located on East Fayette Street in Syracuse.An attorney for the New York State Lottery was on the witness stand for most of the day. Kent VanderWal told the court he was contacted in mid-February about the winning ticket from a 2006 scratch-off lottery game, and immediately sent out an email alert for more investigation into the claim by Nayel and Andy Ashkar. VanderWal said he was concerned that the prize was not claimed for several years, and also that the claimants were related to the retailer, and that the brothers did not want to go public with the winning. Attorneys for the defense said the publicity would impact their family's and their store's safety and securityThe brothers did not travel to Schenectady to formally claim the winnings until March 1st, which was less than two weeks before the ticket would have expired. At that time they were also interviewed by Jay Hemlock, a Lottery security supervisor, who testified Tuesday afternoon. Hemlock also expressed doubts about the brothers' story, saying both were vague on details, and Nayel said it had been just over two years that they'd held the ticket, not the close to 5 and a half. Hemlock will be cross-examined by the defense on Wednesday morning.Theattorney, VanderWal, was questioned about both the fact that the lottery released the brothers' information to private companies, and also put out a news release about the winners before the prize had been certified . VanderWal said that the news release on the winning ticket this past October was the first time the New York State Lottery had made such an announcement without being sure of the winners' validity, and admitted it was done to see if anyone else would come forward and make a claim.After the announcement, the Lottery was contacted by Syracuse Police in behalf of Robert Miles, which led to the criminal proceedings against the Ashkars.It is expected Miles will take the stand on Wednesday, after cross-examination of the Lottery officials and testimoney from other investigators.
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