NY man gets maximum for stolen $5M lottery ticket

SYRACUSE, N.Y. (AP) - July 23, 2013

The Onondaga County District Attorney's Office said Andy Ashkar, 35, of Camillus, was sentenced Tuesday morning to the maximum sentence of 8 years, 4 months to 25 years for having the ticket that was stolen from his parents' convenience store in Syracuse in October 2006.

Onondaga County Court Judge Joseph Fahey, who convicted Ashkar of criminal possession of stolen property during a non-jury trial in May, told him, "You exhibited some of the most rapacious greed I've seen in a long, long time."

Prosecutors said Ashkar, a former finance manager at a Syracuse-area auto dealership, had stolen the winning scratch-off ticket from the real winner, Robert Miles. Lottery officials said Tuesday they're in the "final stages" of the verification process that will determine if the ticket belongs to Miles.

Ashkar's brother, Nayel, was cleared of conspiracy charges during the same trial. Their father, Nayef, owner of the store where the ticket was sold, is charged with conspiracy. He has a separate trial scheduled for September.

Police and lottery officials said the Ashkar brothers convinced Miles, a maintenance worker at an apartment complex near the store, that the ticket was worth only $5,000 when Miles bought it in 2006. The brothers paid Miles $4,000, took a $1,000 handling fee, then waited until the ticket was about to expire before trying to claim the jackpot in 2012, prosecutors said.

Miles said he wasn't thinking clearly that day because he had been high on crack cocaine the night before.

"It was a crime of greed, absolute greed, on the part of Andy Ashkar, and I'm pleased the judge took the stand that he did," Beth Van Doren, the assistant district attorney who prosecuted the case, told The Associated Press. "The community is just outraged that this happened because everyone has an attachment to the lottery and the dream of winning money."

The minimum prison sentence Ashkar faced was 1 to 3 years in prison. Van Doren had asked for a sentence of 5 to 15 years in prison.

Andy Ashkar's attorney, Robert Durr, said getting the maximum sentence left his client "stunned." Durr said Ashkar didn't say anything in court when he learned his fate.

"We're disappointed," Durr said. "Based on my client's lack of criminal history and being a fairly productive member of the community, I thought the maximum was a bit excessive."

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