Aug. 28, 2013 – Robert Miles, of Syracuse, N.Y., is “elated” that he will finally be awarded a $5 million lottery prize he won in 2006. His winning ticket was stolen from him by Andy Ashkar, who in July received a sentence of eight to 25 years in prison for the theft.
Onondaga County Court Judge Joseph Fahey said then that Ashkar “exhibited some of the most rapacious greed I’ve seen in a long, long time.”
Police and New York Lottery officials discovered that Ashkar and his brother, Nayel, had convinced Miles that his winning ticket was not worth a life-changing $5 million, but only $5,000. Miles testified that he was paid $4,000 by Ashkar, who said he’d keep $1,000 for the store.
It was another six years before the Ashkar brothers attempted to cash the winning ticket. Lottery officials were immediately suspicious of the claim, both because of the longer-than-average time the brothers waited to cash the ticket, and because they claimed they’d bought it at the convenience store their parents owned.
The Lottery released a fake story announcing the brothers as the winners of the prize, and after some coaxing by an NYPD officer who knew him, Robert Miles came forward with his story.
He told police and Lottery officials that he was reluctant to come forward because of the circumstances surrounding the ticket theft. The night before, Miles said he had been high on crack cocaine, and Miles said he wasn’t thinking clearly when Ashkar convinced him to relinquish his ticket.
He thought that if he came forward to stake a claim to the ticket, “it would be the word of a “crackhead” against a store owner,” according to Syracuse.com.
In 2008, Miles filed for bankruptcy with the knowledge that a $5 million prize had slipped out of his hands. He says he is a good father to his children, no longer uses drugs, and has held a steady job for several years. Now, he’ll be a multi-millionaire.
Syracuse.com cited an unnamed Lottery official yesterday, saying “the ticket has been verified,” and Miles will receive his fortune – seven years after scratching off a big winner – very soon.