A Florida man has landed himself in jail after stealing $1,396 worth of lottery tickets. What was he thinking?
How He Stole the Lottery Tickets
40-year-old Christopher Michael Fontina was an employee at a Sunoco gas station in Citrus Springs, FL. Fontina’s boss, Nimoy Thakkar, became suspicious when he noticed that he was short on lottery tickets several days in a row.
Thakkar watched his recent surveillance footage to find Fontina tearing off lottery tickets one by one. The film showed him doing this multiple days in a row.
Fontina would scratch each ticket to see if it was a winner. If not, he’d throw it in the trash. He tried to cover his bases by opening and closing the cash register each time he stole a ticket. This way, it was like he had sold the ticket–minus collecting payment for it, of course.
Punishment for Cheating the Lottery
Thakkar counted a loss of $1,396 total, according to the latest report. That’s a lot of lottery tickets!
Fontina was arrested last week at his home in Citrus Springs and taken to the Citrus County Detention Facility. He is currently being charged with one felony count of grand theft.
Depending on the value of the stolen property, the legal sentences for felony grand theft can get very serious.
According to The Marshall Project, each state has its own thresholds that distinguish how seriously a theft charge is taken. Some states won’t give you a felony unless what you’ve stolen is worth $2,000. Until you hit that mark, you’d get a misdemeanor.
Unfortunately for Fontina, Florida is one of the stricter states. Texas and Wisconsin, for example, would not have charged Fontina with a felony unless he stole $2,500 in tickets. Other lenient states include Montana, South Carolina, and Pennsylvania.
Try this in New Jersey and Virginia, however, and you’re charged with a felony once you hit $200 in stolen property.
Other Lottery Cheaters
Fontina’s crime was stopped before it could reach the level of Eddie Tipton’s scam. A former employee of the Iowa Lottery, he masterminded a multi-state lottery scam for which he was arrested in 2015. Tipton was sentenced to up to 25 years in prison.