Syracuse man swindled out of millions in lottery winnings battled drugs, money problems

Robert Miles, the Syracuse maintenence worker who prosecutors say was scammed out of a $5 million dollar winning scratch off lottery ticket, told The Post-Standard he had gotten high on crack cocaine the night before he bought the ticket and was in no condition to argue with the store worker who investigators say stole the ticket from him.

Miles told the paper he no longer uses drugs and he's held a steady job as a maintenance man for years, raised two children and helped raise three stepdaughters.

Two Central New York brothers accused in the scam, Andy and Nayel Ashkar, were arraigned in Onondaga County Court on Wednesday. They both pleaded not guilty. The prosecution requested and received a 6 month order of protection for Miles.

Andy, 34, the brother who allegedly sold the winning ticket, was arraigned on criminal possession in the first degree.

Nayel, 36, was arraigned on attempted grand larceny in the first degree. Both pleaded not guilty.

Prosecutors say Miles' dream came true in 2006 when he bought a $5 million dollar winning lottery ticket at the Ashkar's family store on East Fayette Street in Syracuse. Assistant District Attorney Beth Van Doren said Andy Ashkar took the winning ticket and told the man it was only worth $5000. Van Doren says he was given $4000 and Ashkar told him the store kept the other $1000 as their share.

"He has been tormented for the last six years about what ifs, could haves and should haves and right now his life is about to change forever," said Van Doren outside court on Wednesday.