A liquor store clerk was indicted after she allegedly tried to claim a winning $3 million lottery ticket left by a customer
By Alisha Ebrahimji, CNN
(CNN) -- (CNN) — A liquor store clerk schemed, stole and tried to cash out a winning $3 million lottery ticket, a Massachusetts county prosecutor said, before investigators – helped by technology – launched a hunt for the rightful winner.
Now, the clerk, Carly Nunes, 23, of Lakeville, Massachusetts, has been indicted by a grand jury on one count each of larceny from a building, attempted larceny, presentation of a false claim and witness intimidation, the Plymouth County District Attorney’s Office said. The grand jury also indicted Nunes’ coworker Joseph Reddem, 32, of Manchester, New Hampshire, on one count of attempted extortion.
CNN had tried to reach Nunes and Reddem. It’s not clear if either has an attorney. Both will be arraigned at a later date, the DA’s office said.
The episode began when boat mechanic Paul Little went into the liquor store on January 17 and bought a bag of chips, two Massachusetts State Lottery Quick Picks for the Mega Millions lottery and two for the Mass Cash lottery, according to details in a bail request for Nunes. He added a multiplier to his Mega Millions ticket to increase the jackpot prize.
Nunes input the order into the lottery terminal, printed the two tickets, returned to the cash register and rang up Little’s $12 order, the document states.
Little left the store with his chips – but forgot the tickets in the lottery terminal tray, the prosecutor’s office said in a news release. About 45 minutes later, another customer bought five tickets, which Nunes scooped up from the tray along with Little’s and handed them to that customer, who gave her back the two extras, the bail request states.
Nunes took the tickets and said they must have belonged to “him,” meaning Little, the DA’s office said. She didn’t try to find Little or tell other workers about the forgotten tickets but instead took them home, the court document states.
That night, Little’s Mass Millions ticket numbers – 2, 12, 18, 24 and 39 – were announced as the winners of the $3 million prize, the prosecutor’s office said.
The next morning, Little realized the tickets were missing and figured he must have dropped them in the parking lot, the court document states.
Two days later, on January 19, a coworker, Reddem, drove Nunes and her boyfriend to the Massachusetts State Lottery Headquarters in Dorchester to redeem the lottery prize, the DA said.
While lottery employees could confirm the numbers on the ticket, they were skeptical of its condition – torn and seemingly burned – and overheard the couple arguing in the lobby over dividing the prize money, an interaction that was caught on lottery surveillance video, the prosecutor’s office said.
Lottery officials contacted Massachusetts State Police and opened an investigation, telling Nunes she would get the prize once the investigation was complete, the district attorney’s office said. CNN has reached out to Mega Millions, Massachusetts State Police and the Massachusetts State Lottery Commission.
Surveillance video from the liquor store confirmed Little, not Nunes, bought the winning ticket, the bail request states. And Nunes later to investigators no longer claimed to have purchased the ticket herself but instead said she got it inadvertently, the prosecutor’s office said.
Investigators posted flyers with screengrab shots of the man from surveillance video, canvassed the Lakeville area and questioned other customers rightful ticket-buyer’s identity, the district attorney’s office said. Little finally was found and interviewed on February 13, the court record shows.
The Massachusetts State Lottery Commission intends to honor Little’s claim on the $3 million jackpot, the prosecutor’s office said.
While Little told CNN Thursday he hasn’t received the prize money yet and there isn’t a guarantee that he will, he appreciates the amount of effort that people put into investigating the manner and finding him.
“All of the people working on my behalf renews my faith that there are lots of good people out there,” he said.
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