NEWS

Judge orders some of stolen lottery winnings returned; store clerk still at large

February 17, 2010 | In The News, Randy Howry, Sean Breen

By Steven Kreytak, Austin American-Statesman Staff

A judge in Austin on Tuesday ordered that $395,000 seized in a lottery fraud investigation be given to Willis Willis, a Dallas-area maintenance man who prosecutors say was the rightful winner of a $1 million jackpot last year.

“I feel great right now,” said Willis, 68, outside court. He wants to use his winnings to pay off medical bills, to pay the college tuition bills for the youngest of his six daughters and to buy a new set of golf clubs. He does not plan to work again.

The order by state District Judge Bob Perkins comes as authorities are continuing to search for Pankaj Joshi, a convenience store clerk in the Dallas suburb of Grand Prairie who prosecutors say stole Willis’ ticket in May when Willis asked him to check if it was a winner. (more…)

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Defrauded lottery winner to get some of his money

February 16, 2010 | In The News

From KVUE Austin – ABC Affiliate

A Texas lottery winner, who was told by a North Texas area clerk he had only won $2 when in fact he had won $1 million, will receive part of his winnings, a judge decided Tuesday.

Willis Willis took his lottery ticket to a Grand Prairie convenience store in May 2009 to see if he was a winner. But authorities say Pankaj Joshi, the clerk, told Willis he had only won a dollar and took the ticket.

Investigators believe Joshi claimed the prize for himself and fled to Nepal after $750,000 of the prize was transferred to him. He has since been indicted on a charge of claiming a lottery prize by fraud.

Prosecutors have recovered about $365,000 from U.S. banks, and since learning he was defrauded, Willis has been fighting the Texas Lottery Commission to be awarded the prize he won.

In November, the Travis County District Attorneys Office filed a motion to restore the recovered money to Willis. On Tuesday, Willis appeared in a Travis County courtroom, where a judge ruled Willis should receive part of his winnings.

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