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Woman who stole $175,000 lottery ticket avoids jail time

Jan 10, 2006, 6:36 am

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Mega Millions

Dora Leal dodged a potential 15-year prison sentence Monday and was given probation and community service for her theft of a $175,000 winning lottery ticket from a group of Chicago traders.

Last month a Cook County jury found Leal guilty of stealing the Mega Millions lottery ticket in December, 2003.

She was a runner at the Chicago Board Options Exchange, where 16 people had pooled money to purchase lottery tickets, said prosecutor Lori Rosen. Leal was sent to a convenience store with the tickets to check for winners. She pocketed the prize ticket after learning it was worth $175,000, Rosen said.

She "told the storeowner to keep it quiet and not tell anyone," Rosen said.

But bystanders overheard news of her win and cheered, and word leaked to the traders, Rosen said. In addition, the store owner photocopied the ticket, according to Rosen.

She signed and pocketed the ticket, even though she wasn't one of the 16 people who pooled their money to play, prosecutors said.

Leal testified that she gave all the tickets back to her boss, a trader.

Defense attorney Robert Kuzas had argued that Leal never tried to cash the ticket or have it validated. It has not been found. Kuzas suggested that one of the traders might have lost the ticket.

The traders were allowed to use a photocopy of the ticket to claim their prize.

Crediting her with 50 days already served in jail, Judge Vincent Gaughan sentenced her to three years probation and 200 hours of community service.

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