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Stolen lottery ticket trial underway in Chicago

Dec 13, 2005, 8:30 am

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Mega Millions

The trial began Monday for a woman accused of stealing a winning lottery ticket from her co-workers. The Mega Millions prize was worth $178,000. The winning ticket is still missing.

There was no violence involved in this case, and the person on trial was actually given at one point the item she is accused of stealing. Nonetheless, this two-year-old lottery controversy has found its way to the Cook County Criminal Courts Building.

The 46-year-old wife and mother of two adult daughters sat at the defense table sometimes shaking her head as prosecution witnesses testified. Dora Leal, a former clerk at the Chicago Board Options Exchange, is accused of stealing a winning lottery ticket purchased by 16 traders in late 2003.

Leal's boss, trader Richard Tobin, had sent Leal to a lobby convenience store to find out if any of the 38 tickets he and the other traders bought as a group had won.

The store owner testified that after she told Leal that one of the tickets had won $175,000, Leal was hugging and high-fiving other customers but later told Tobin that the tickets he gave her had won only $17.

Leal's attorney told the jury his client had not stolen anything and certainly never cashed the lottery ticket. He also insisted Leal gave Tobin the paper work documenting the lottery win but simply could not find the ticket, which two years later still has not surfaced.

Options trader Richard Tobin also testified Monday that the Illinois lottery is in the process of paying him and the other 15 traders who bought the missing ticket, because the ticket apparently was registered as a winner by the store owner after Leal turned in it.

Finally, we are told Leal will testify on her own behalf some time Tuesday. Then the judge says he hopes the jury will deliberate on this case on Wednesday to decide guilt or innocence in the lottery controversy.

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