Grocery store owner steals customer's lottery winnings

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CONGRESS - The following is a press release from the Yavapai County Sheriff's Office:

On August 12, 2009, Yavapai County Sheriff's Office deputies arrested 55-year-old Katrina Younan for a felony level theft of lottery winnings. Younan is the owner of the Congress Grocery Store located in the 22500 block of Highway 71 in Congress, Arizona.

On July 31, 2009, YCSO deputies were called to the Congress Grocery Store to meet with an official representative of the Arizona State Lottery. Deputies were told that Younan concealed a large cash prize win from a customer and attempted to collect the winnings for herself. The customer and victim, a 54-year-old Congress resident, filed a complaint with the State Lottery Office after attempting to redeem the winning ticket with Younan on June 28, 2009. The ticket had a value of $10,000 dollars, although the amount is not known until a claim is made to the lottery office.

Deputies met with the victim who explained he had redeemed several lottery tickets at the Congress Market on June 28th. He realized one of them was a winner when the lotto machine's bells and whistles sounded. Additionally, several pieces of paper began printing from the same machine. Younan offered the victim $25.00 for the ticket as a payout. The victim, believing the ticket was worth much more, refused the cash and demanded all his tickets back. The victim also purchased additional lottery tickets before leaving the store. After returning home, the victim realized the winning ticket was missing and he returned to the market. Younan claimed she did not have his ticket. A few weeks later, the victim and some family members met with Younan hoping to resolve the dispute, but Younan adamantly denied taking his ticket.

The victim contacted Arizona State Lottery Officials who began an investigation into the actions of Younan at the Congress Market. Officials discovered that Younan completed a second validation check on the victim's winning ticket within minutes after the victim completed a purchase and left the store. Younan initially claimed she thought the ticket was only worth $25.00 even though the winning amount was never displayed by the machine. Officials believe Younan ran the ticket a second time to gather information for a claim on the winning ticket. Lottery Officials also noted that users of the lottery equipment complete a training checklist and know the correct procedures to process higher dollar winning tickets. Winning tickets can only be processed once.

As a result of the investigation, Younan was contacted on August 12, 2009, and arrested for one count of Fraudlent Schemes and Practices and one count of Theft. She was booked at the Camp Verde Detention Center and is due in court for her initial appearance today.

Arizona Lottery Officials will make good on victim's $10,000 winning ticket.