Battle over winnings after lotto ticket stolen

August 16, 2011 7:31:34 AM PDT
One man says his winning lottery ticket was snatched right from under his nose.

Two women are under arrest and now the lottery is trying to figure out how it could have been cashed in the way it was.

"I think that they should give me my $10,000," Robert Collins said.

Robert Collins worries he may never see a dime of the Quick Draw jackpot he says he won fair and square at Richie D's Bar in Holbrook, where they're already proudly displaying news of the winning ticket.

But there's one problem, detectives say the bartender, Nichol Anderson, stole it right off the bar!

"There's no honesty amongst thieves," said Eli Roman, of the New York State Police.

Eli Roman has never seen a case quite like this, in his three decades with the NYSP.

He says Anderson enlisted the help of her cousin's wife, Roseanne Alicea, offering her a cut of the prize if she took the ticket to the lottery office in Garden City.

The lottery gave Alicea the check, and troopers say she kept it all for herself, spending it on outstanding bills and buying herself a sofa.

"That's what struck me about this," Roman said.

Police quickly arrested both women and the bar summarily fired Anderson.

"It was one of our newer bartenders and it's very sad because we feel very bad for him," the bar's owner said.

But Collins's fight may only have just begun.

The lottery has told him it considers the prize already paid and he'll have to seek restitution on his own, in court.

This, even though he swiped his driver's license into a lottery computer right there at the bar, which gave him a receipt congratulating him on being the winner.

He can't imagine how the officials failed to verify Roseanne Alicea was the legitimate winner when she presented herself at the lottery office.

"I counted on that money once I thought I was a winner," Collins said, "I think it would be better for the New York State Lottery to give me my $10,000 and then collect it from the people who stole my money."