In 2006, Robert Miles walked into a Syracuse convenience store with a winning scratch-off ticket worth $5 million. Seven years and one criminal trial later, Miles will finally be able to cash in his prize.
When Andy and Nayel Ashkar, the owner's sons at Syracuse's The Green Ale Market, saw Miles's winning lottery ticket, they told Miles it was worth just $5,000, not $5 million. Miles, who was battling an addiction to crack cocaine at the time, believed them and accepted their offer of $4,000 cash.
Last year sometime, the Ashkar brothers attempted to cash the winning ticket, which set off an investigation by state gaming officials and, eventually, a criminal trial against the Ashkars.
In May, Andy Ashkar, who worked the counter that day, was convicted of possessing the stolen ticket and was sentenced to 25 years. His brother, Nafel, was acquitted on all charges for lack of evidence. Their father, Nayef Ashkar, who owns the convenience store, pleaded guilty to filing a false instrument and is expected to be tried on conspiracy charges in September.
On Wednesday, lottery officials completed their verification process and officially awarded Miles with the winnings.
“It's a matter of paperwork now,” Lee Park, the New York Lottery spokesman, told NBC News.
Miles, who currently works as a maintenance man at a Syracuse apartment complex, was "elated the lottery prize has finally been awarded him," according to his attorney, Steve Gamareri.
Miles will have the option of receiving $250,000 annually for the next 20 years, or a lump sum payment of $3.2 million, or $2.1 million after taxes.