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Police: Dunn store owner pocketed winning lottery ticket

Posted March 17, 2011

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— A Dunn convenience store owner faces theft and fraud charges after he allegedly kept a customer's winning lottery ticket for himself, police said Thursday.

Sureshbha Ishvarbhai Patel, 53, the owner of Pop Mart at 415 Spring Branch Road, was charged Tuesday with felony larceny and obtaining property by false pretense.

Police said Kecia Nehring Parker of the Plain View area of Sampson County bought a winning Carolina Cash 5 lottery ticket in Carolina Beach last August and went to Patel's store to cash it. Patel told Parker her ticket didn't win and kept it for himself, according to investigators.

"He pretty much lied to her, told her that she was not a winner," said Lt. David Register of the Dunn Police Department.

On Feb. 8, Patel went to the North Carolina Education Lottery office in Raleigh to claim the $89,719 in winnings from the ticket, police said.

"According to the lottery commission, he held on because his attorney told him to wait till 2011 to cash it in for tax reasons," Register said.

Patel told lottery officials that his wife had bought the winning ticket, but he quickly left when officials said they wanted to investigate his claim.

“They asked him a few other questions. The questions were not adding up to them, and they launched an investigation into it,” Register said. "While telling him that they were thinking about investigating, he said, 'Give it to the children,' turned around and left."

Lottery ticket, Carolina Cash 5 Police: Dunn store owner pocketed winning lottery ticket

Parker said she always plays the same numbers, and lottery investigators were able to link the ticket to her when they noticed her numbers were played every week at a BP gas station in Dunn.

"I was amazed at how they were able to ascertain everything," she said. "If they wouldn't have done their job as well as they did, none of this would ever have come out in the open."

“She is the rightful owner, and we believe she deserves the money,” lottery spokesman Van Denton said.

Lottery officials urged customers to sign their tickets at the time of purchase and to always watch as retailers scan tickets to determine whether they are winners. Parker said she plans to sign her tickets from now on.

Patel, who was released after posting a $50,000 bond, couldn't be reached Thursday for comment.

Sales of lottery tickets at his store have been suspended indefinitely, and investigators with the state lottery removed lottery machines from the store on Wednesday.

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  • FromClayton Mar 18, 2:42 p.m.

    my husband believes this happens all the time. He makes them scan the tickets into the machine in front of him.

    I cant remember, does the machine make a "winning" noise if you scan in a winner? If not, it should.

  • Weetie Mar 18, 2:28 p.m.

    He should have never been in NC to begin with. I know him and I have never trusted him. He has always seemed "shady."

  • janetclayton2 Mar 18, 1:50 p.m.

    Such a shame....just remember to sign your tickets as soon as you get them..also if you bring your ticket to the store to
    see if you are a winner...ask the person checking your ticket if you can see the screen they are looking at. There was an expose on lottery ticket vendors who say you didn't win and they go and cash it in themselves. Try to watch results on TV, you won't have this problem.

  • trose4 Mar 18, 1:35 p.m.

    These are the people that need to have their citizenship, work visa, sponsorship, or whatever revoked. When they get finished serving out their sentence they should immediately be deported and shipped back to whichever rock it was that they escaped from before coming here.

  • ajfuddermukker Mar 18, 12:53 p.m.

    Mkes you wonder how many other people he stole from. He should be shut down and his citizenship revoked and have him sent back to India or wherever he came from!

  • ncsuecu Mar 18, 12:21 p.m.

    Did they close him down, he doesn't need to make a nickel on selling anything in North Carolina. Wonder how many smaller lottery tickets he has cashed in for himself.

  • Lily Mar 18, 12:16 p.m.

    Proverbs 1:19 (New International Reader's Version)

    That's what happens to everyone who goes after money in the wrong way. That kind of money takes away the lives of those who get it.

  • lakeyk1 Mar 18, 11:57 a.m.

    A great job by the Lottery Commission!!!!!!!!. The fine imposed, and the appropriate action of revoking his license for the sale of lottery tickets and removing the machines forever was justifiable. lakeyk1

  • knockitoff Mar 18, 11:37 a.m.

    GREEDY GREEDY GREEDY CROOK!!
    I would NEVER shop in his store again as he is not a person you can trust - he's a Thief, who else and what else would he try to obtain under false pretenses?

    Crying shame!!

  • DickHefner Mar 18, 11:07 a.m.

    it is a shame people will try to defraud. Maybe lottery commission should have the machines make a flashing and ringing sound anytime someone has a winning ticket so sleight of hand isn't a problem. I know a lot of times it seems stores have the displays set up so you can't see the machine to be sure if you are a winner or not.

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