Courts & Crime

Texas lottery tells ticket theft victim he isn't the winner

GRAND PRAIRIE, Texas — Willis Willis has an idea how he can get his money back from the store clerk who authorities say stole his $1 million winning lottery ticket.

"Just get me in a room with him for two minutes," says the 67-year-old Navy veteran.

Willis was back home in Grand Prairie on Tuesday after a meeting with Texas Lottery Commission officials Monday in Austin in which his attorneys tried unsuccessfully to collect the winnings.

It was a meeting that only seemed to add confusion and frustration to the already bizarre case.

Commission officials told Willis that they consider the store clerk, Pankaj Joshi, the rightful winner because Joshi signed and redeemed the ticket as required, Willis’ attorney said.

Joshi was indicted in Travis County on charges of claiming a lottery prize by fraud. Prosecutors there say Willis is the winner and hope to return to him about $365,000 they have seized from Joshi's bank accounts.

A spokesman said the Lottery Commission does not comment on pending legal claims.

Willis' attorney, Sean E. Breen, said Tuesday: "I think the Lottery Commission is more concerned with covering their own behinds than making sure Mr. Willis gets the money. We will move forward with all legal remedies."


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