July 23, 2013 – A former finance manager at a car dealership in Syracuse received the maximum sentence for criminal possession of stolen property Tuesday.
Andy Ashkar, 35, was sentenced to 8 to 25 years in prison for swindling a customer at his parents’ convenience store out of a $5 million winning scratch-off ticket in 2006.
Onondoga County Court Judge Joseph Fahey convicted Ashkar of the crime in May, telling Ashkar that he’d “exhibited some of the most rapacious greed I’ve seen in a long, long time.”
Police and New York Lottery officials told the Associated Press that Ashkar and his brother, Nayel, convinced Robert Miles, a maintenance worker at an apartment complex near the family’s convenience store, that he’d won only $5,000 – not $5 million.
Ashkar paid Miles $4,000, keeping $1,000 “handling fee” for the store, and drove away from the store once Miles had exited, according to Miles’ testimony in November.
According to Syracuse.com reports, Ashkar waited years before attempting to cash the ticket in March of last year. Lottery officials were suspicious of the claim, and put out a story of the big win to see if anyone else would make a claim to the $5 million prize.
Miles was eventually convinced to come forward when a police officer tracked him down, and recanted his story to law enforcement and Lottery officials.
According to his and other witnesses testimonies, Miles had been high on crack cocaine the night before he bought the ticket, and wasn’t thinking clearly when Ashkar convinced him the ticket was worth only $5,000.
While Ashkar’s brother was cleared of conspiracy charges, his father, Nayef, awaits a trial for charges of conspiracy charges in September.
Miles, who says he no longer uses drugs, has held a steady job for many years, and is a good father for his children, is not guaranteed the $5 million.
“The lottery has a thorough process for determining a claimant’s right to winnings,” lottery spokesman Lee Park told Syracuse.com. “There is no deadline or time frame for this process to be complete.”
Park said the Lottery could hold the money indefinitely, but that they do their best to pay all winnings out to rightful winners.