Ocala store clerk accused of stealing winning lottery ticket from customer

$600 ticket pocketed by employee, lottery special agent says

By Matt Petrillo - Reporter

OCALA, Fla. - Luck ran out for a convenience store clerk in Marion County.

Ahmed Keshwari of Ocala faces a grand theft charge after investigators said he stole a $600 winning lottery ticket from a customer Tuesday. That customer turned out to be an undercover special agent with the Florida Lottery.

A lottery official told News 6 she couldn't comment on exactly what prompted that special agent to investigate the Marutia Food Mart in Ocala, but she confirmed either someone else was scammed out of their lottery ticket there and complained, or it was a routine undercover operation.

When News 6 caught up with Keshwari, he said he's innocent. 

"It was a misunderstanding between me and the officer," Keshwari said.

Detectives said the undercover agent walked into the food mart on Jacksonville Road Tuesday evening and handed Keshwari the winning ticket to validate it. He scanned the ticket, and the machine made a distinctive noise, signaling the ticket was a winner. But Keshwari then told the agent he heard nothing, meaning the ticket was worthless.

"I didn't hear the sound, the ringing sound. And the officer said it was something he heard. And there was some confusion, that's it," he said.

But the agent recorded the entire transaction on camera, and court documents show when agents came back to the store to arrest Keshwari, they found the same ticket in his right front pants pocket.

A clerk at the store Wednesday said the employee in question has been fired and nothing like this has ever happened there before.

Florida Lottery officials said they only have evidence of one employee stealing but they're still investigating the case. If agents discover more employees not being honest, then the lottery could ban the store from selling lottery tickets. ‚Äč

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