A Massachusetts man whose winning $3 million lottery ticket was allegedly stolen by the store clerk who sold it to him says he wishes “the best” for the accused cashier on Friday, as officials finally awarded him his massive payout.
Paul Little accidentally left his winning ticket behind at a Lakeville liquor store in January, where prosecutors claim the store’s clerk, 23-year-old Carly Nunes, tried to claim the prize for herself.
“I’m gonna wish her the best. I know, she’s put herself in a difficult spot. But hopefully, she’ll work her way to a better life,” Little said of Nunes, who now faces charges stemming from the incident, according to MassLive.
While receiving his ceremonial giant check at the Lottery headquarters in Dorchester, Little told reporters: “A lot of things had to happen for me to be standing here today,” WCVB reported.
Little, a diesel engine mechanic from Lakeville, 40 miles south of Boston, said he initially thought he had lost the ticket he received after purchasing two State Lottery Quick Picks for the Mega Millions Lottery and two for the Mass Cash lottery at Lakeville Market & Liquors on Jan. 17.
About 45 minutes later another customer noticed that Little — who added a multiplier to his Mega Millions ticket to increase the jackpot prize — left without his ticket and returned the stub to Nunes, who pocketed it, prosecutors said.
Later that evening, Little’s winning Mass Millions numbers were called.
When Nunes found out she had the ticket, she allegedly hatched a plot to claim the prize with the help of co-worker Joseph Reddem, 32, who drove her to the lottery headquarters.
Lottery officials quickly became suspicious when they noticed that the ticket appeared to be torn and burned, which Nunes said happened when she accidentally put it on a pipe.
Surveillance video in the lottery office also captured Nunes allegedly arguing with Reddem over the money.
Reddem allegedly made demands of the prize and Nunes told him she would “only pay him $200,000,” prosecutors said.
Nunes later admitted she did not buy the ticket.
Surveillance video helped officials determine Little had purchased the ticket.
“It really gave me a greater appreciation for what the Mass Lottery does as far as making sure the rightful people get the award,” Little said, according to CBS affiliate WBZ News. “I can’t say enough for all the people who helped me get to this point.”
“That’s the amazing part of it. A lot of things had to happen for me to be standing here today,” he added.
Little says the first thing he plans to do with his $3 million winnings is pay off the mortgage of his house and make some renovations.
He also plans to continue working and using the money to give back to his community.
“I know the church I go to, they’re in need of a heating system. So we’ll be working to contribute to that,” Little said.
Nunes faces charges of larceny from a building, presentation of a false claim, and witness intimidation, according to the Plymouth County District Attorney’s Office.
A judge ordered her held on $10,000 cash bail after she pleaded not guilty.
Reddem was charged with attempted extortion and released on his own recognizance.
He was ordered not to gamble or have contact with Nunes and witnesses and is due back in court on July 28.
By Isabel Keane