Despite being told in advertisements that it is "only a game", people take the lottery very seriously.
A man in Illinois won a million-dollar scratch-off ticket back in January. The day after he got his winnings, he dropped dead of cyanide poisoning. The case is still unsolved.
Back in February, a group of hairstylists who bought tickets together ended up in court, fighting over who got what.
But a New York man just found out the price for stealing someone else's ticket and cashing it in yourself.
Back in October 2006, Robert Miles bought a lottery ticket. That ticket went on to win $5 million. But Miles never saw that money. He returned to the store where he bought the ticket to see about cashing in what he may have won. Andy Ashkar, the son of the store owner, told him that the ticket was worth only $5,000 and that the store actually got a $1,000 cut of that. Ashkar gave Miles $4,000 cash and stashed the ticket away.
Fast forward six years. The deadline for cashing that lottery ticket was about to pass. Ashkar had waited as long as he could and made his move to get his winnings.
Trouble was, he ended up in court, with Robert Miles looking to get his money back.
The Post-Standard reports that Ashkar was charged with felony possession of stolen property. Robert Miles testified in court that he ws high on crack cocaine when he went to cash in the ticket. And he now says he has forgiven Ashkar. But the judge saw it differently.
"Mr. Ashkar, let me tell you something," Onondaga County Judge Joseph Fahey said. "You exhibited some of the most rapacious greed I've seen in a long, long time. I sat here and I listened to you talk about the fact that you had a $150,000-a-year income from an auto dealership," the judge told Ashkar. "You know something?" Fahey asked. "It would've made a big difference in Robert Miles' life. You took advantage of somebody who was weak, somebody who was vulnerable, somebody who was confused. Your conduct as far as I'm concerned was nothing short of predatory."
He then sentenced Ashkar to the maximum sentence possible for his crime: 8 1/3 to 25 years.
"We're disappointed," Andy Ashkar's attorney, Robert 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."