Pina Patel & Vishnubhai Patel, clerk & owner of BP Jiffy Food Mart at 3350 SE 52nd in St. Ocala, Florida, were jailed on charges of grand theft, and solicitation and conspiracy by Florida Lottery officials on May 2.
According to the Florida Lottery, Division of Security, a state official went undercover as a customer also said the clerk, Pina Patel, to check if he had a winning ticket.
Patel checked it and convinced him that his ticket was a winner but informed him that it was worth $10 when it was actually worth $599.
She then showed it to Vishnubhai Patel, the owner, and then tried to sell the undercover official a $5 scratch ticket instead to which he denied & left. Lottery officials came right after and arrested the 2.
According to the arrest report, state officials found the ticket in the garbage box where the Patels told they kept all of the tickets. The report also mentioned that Pina Patel had said state officials that she “made a mistake,” & Vishnubhai Patel told them he knew that the ticket was valid & that the clerk was going to keep it and then put it in the box himself.
They were then brought to the Marion County Jail & were released the day following on a $4,000 bond.
State officials also arrested Ahmed Keshwari, a store clerk at the Maruti Food Mart at 4201 NE Jacksonville Road, on a charge of grand theft the day before they arrested the Patels.
Authorities told that a winning ticket was given to Keshwari, who told a state official posing as a customer, that the ticket was not a winner, leading the official to leave the store.
The arrest report said that state officials later returned to the store, searched Keshwari, found the winning ticket valued at $599 in his right front pocket & arrested him. He was released from jail Tuesday afternoon after a $2,000 bond was posted.
Nidia Tew, a spokeswoman for the Florida Lottery, told the Star-Banner that she was unable to comment on the case as it was still under investigation. She, however, did tell that the agency does get complaints from customers about these types of incidents in the convenience stores and such routine investigations are not unusual.