Lottery Lawyers Tell Duped Winner "Too Bad"

Man's lawyer says lottery commission considers alleged thief to be winner

By Omar Villafranca
|  Tuesday, Nov 3, 2009  |  Updated 2:34 PM CDT
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Lotto Winner and Attorneys Meet  with Lottery Commission

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The Texas Lottery Commission has told a man whose winning ticket was stolen that his luck has run out.

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Lotto Winner and Attorneys Meet with Lottery Commission

Willis Willis went to Austin to meet with the Texas Lottery Commission about possibly getting his money after a store clerk stole his winning ticket.
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Five months after buying a winning million-dollar Texas lottery ticket, Willis Willis isn't living like a millionaire. In fact, he hasn't seen any of the money -- and the lottery commission doesn't plan on giving him any.

Authorities say a former employee of the Grand Prairie convenience store where Willis bought the ticket told the man the winning ticket was only worth $2. The former clerk, Pankaj Joshi, was indicted in September on one charge of claiming a lottery prize by fraud.

Willis' attorney said lawyers for the Texas Lottery Commission in Austin told him his luck had run out.

"They said, 'Too bad, Willis,' and, 'We've paid the other person,' and that they only pay one time," said Randy Howry, Willis' attorney.

Howry said the commission basically told his client that because Willis didn't turn the ticket in, the commission considers Joshi to be the winner.

Investigators said Joshi cashed in Willis' winning Mega Millions ticket in Austin on June 25 and then disappeared.

Willis, 67, bought the ticket in May.

"I never thought it would come to this," he said last week. "By me not cashing that ticket in, to me it was a complete loss."

Howry said the Travis County District Attorney's Office has frozen an account believed to belong to Joshi. The account has roughly $350,000 in it.

Howry said he hopes to get the money for Willis, and said Willis is considering a lawsuit against the commission for the cash.

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