Brothers charged with scamming $5M lottery ticket

SYRACUSE, N.Y. — Two brothers from central New York who claimed a $5 million lottery ticket sold at their family’s store have been accused of scamming the winning ticket from a customer.

Andy Ashkar, 34, and Nayel Ashkar, 36, are charged with second-degree attempted grand larceny and fourth-degree conspiracy. Andy Ashkar also was charged with first-degree criminal possession of stolen property, Onondaga County District Attorney William Fitzpatrick said Tuesday.

Fitzpatrick said the legitimate purchaser is a 49-year-old married father of two who came forward after suspicious lottery security officials trying to find the true winner told the story of the brothers’ win to a Syracuse newspaper last month.

He had been fooled into giving up the winning scratch-off ticket when he went to cash it at the market in October 2006.

“He wasn’t thinking clearly at the time,” Fitzpatrick said of winner’s initial reading of the ticket. “He says to a buddy he won $5,000. The friend says, `No, I think you won $5 million,’ and he says, `No, it couldn’t be.”’

When he went to the Ashkar family’s Green Ale market to cash in, Andy Ashkar took advantage of the confusion to say he’d won $5,000 and successfully offered the winner $4,000 in cash to avoid taxes and other complications, the prosecutor said.

Andy Ashkar claimed in March that he bought the ticket at his parents’ convenience store in Syracuse in 2006, decided to share it with his brother and delayed claiming the prize until shortly before it would have expired because he didn’t want it to influence his engagement and subsequent marriage, according the state lottery division’s original account.

In fact, Fitzpatrick said, the lottery had doubts about the Ashkars’ story, in part because they asked if they could take a lesser amount in exchange for the lottery foregoing the usual news conference held for big winners.

“The lottery people sniffed it out right away,” Fitzpatrick said.

He said his office was called into the case by the lottery and at about the same time the bogus story was reported, authorities knew about the true winner, who will be named after he gets his affairs in order, from a Syracuse police officer who picked up information about him on the street.

Fitzpatrick said the winner had a “nagging” feeling over the years that he’d been cheated, but it wasn’t until the story of the brothers’ claim hit the news that a friend told him he’d been right.

“I hope I can get the guy his dough,” Fitzpatrick said of the winner, whom he described as a hardworking maintenance staffer in city buildings.

Because the payout is in installments of $250,000 annually for 20 years, Fitzpatrick said, the winner may be entitled to $1.5 million right away for the six years that have passed since he bought the ticket.

A call to the lottery division wasn’t immediately returned Tuesday afternoon.

The Ashkars, both employed as managers at area auto dealerships, were being held ahead of their arraignment Wednesday. Their father, Nayek Ashkar, had no comment when reached Tuesday. A message left for their lawyer wasn’t immediately returned.

More in Local News

These little piggies stay home

Norman, who was spotted last week in Everett, is part of a trio kept as pets by the “pig whisperer.”

Cheering families welcome Kidd, Shoup after 6 months at sea

“I get back Daddy back today,” said one homemade sign at Naval Station Everett.

Stanwood man, 33, killed in crash near Marysville

Speed may have been a factor, the sheriff’s department said.

Street-legal ATVs approved for some roads near Sultan

Supporters foresee tourism benefits. Opponents are concerned about injury and pollution risks.

Jamie Copeland is a senior at Cedar Park Christian Schools’ Mountlake Terrace campus. She is a basketball player, ASB president, cheerleader and, of course, a Lion. (Dan Bates / The Herald)
Cedar Park Christian senior stepping up to new challenges

Jamie Copeland’s academics include STEM studies, leadership, ASB activities, honor society.

Woman, 47, found dead in Marysville jail cell

She’d been in custody about four days after being arrested on warrants, police said.

County plans to sue to recoup costs from ballot drop-box law

A quarter-million dollars could be spent adding 19 ballot boxes in rural areas.

Providence Hospital in Everett at sunset Monday night. Officials Providence St. Joseph Health Ascension Health reportedly are discussing a merger that would create a chain of hospitals, including Providence Regional Medical Center Everett, plus clinics and medical care centers in 26 states spanning both coasts. (Kevin Clark / The Daily Herald)
Merger would make Providence part of health care behemoth

Providence St. Joseph Health and Ascension Health are said to be talking. Swedish would also be affected.

5 teens in custody in drug-robbery shooting death

They range in age from 15 to 17. One allegedly fatally shot a 54-year-old mother, whose son was wounded.

Most Read