Willis Willis: "I've Been Robbed Twice"

Man claiming lottery win waits for payday

By Frank Heinz
|  Tuesday, Nov 17, 2009  |  Updated 3:05 PM CDT
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Lotto Winner and Attorneys Meet  with Lottery Commission

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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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The Texas Lottery Commission listened to Willis Willis' story, but did nothing.

The panel heard from the Grand Prairie man's attorney during public comments, then went behind closed doors and later adjourned without taking action.

 Willis² says he was duped into believing his ticket was worth only $2 by a clerk, Pankaj Joshi, who later cashed in his winning ticket. Joshi made off with the ticket, and the million dollars, and was indicted in September on one charge of claiming a lottery prize by fraud.

The Texas Lottery Commission in Austin essentially told Willis tough luck, though they proceeded to file charges against Joshi while freezing an account believed to belong to the him with roughly $365,000 in it.

Before heading into the meeting Tuesday, Willis said, "It's a dream and it's a nightmare at the same time. I've been robbed twice, that's the way I feel."

Randy Howry, the attorney representing Willis, said, "Mr. Willis won a million dollars in the Texas Lottery and after taxes are taken out, that means he's entitled to receive $750,000, and we intend to fight for every dollar that is rightfully his."

Howry said the commission basically told his client that because Willis² didn't turn the ticket in, the commission considers Joshi to be the winner. A winner they have filed charges against for fraudulently claiming a lottery prize.

"Not only are the eyes of Texas on the Texas lottery, but the eyes of the nation and really the world, on whether the Texas Lottery has any credibility, " said Howry.

The plight of Willis² sparked outrage from readers, to such a degree that NBCDFW reader Nick Russo brought forth a plan to get Willis his rightful winnings. Read Russo's plan here.

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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