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Cops bust 2 men who stole 3,000 lottery tickets

Mar 15, 2007, 10:33 am

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California Lottery

Two men who allegedly made off with 3,000 lottery tickets from a Chinatown, California, liquor store are in custody, along with a woman accused of trying to cash some of the tickets, thanks to a school principal who recognized two of the suspects as the parents of one of his students, police reported.

The woman, who is not suspected of taking part in the Feb. 20 robbery, allegedly visited a liquor store in Highland Park the next day in an unsuccessful attempt to try to cash some of the stolen scratch-off tickets, said Los Angeles police Lt. Paul Vernon.

Leticia Garcia, 29, was accompanied by her two children that day, and police brought security camera photos of the trio to area elementary schools, where a principal recognized one of the youngsters and his mother, Vernon said.

The principal then was shown the surveillance video from the robbery, which also netted the suspects about $400 in cash, and identified of the male suspects as the boy's father, Vernon said.

Investigators arrested the three yesterday and seized evidence that included some of the uncashed lottery tickets, authorities said.

After the robbery, lottery officials had blocked the stolen tickets — which had serial numbers — from being cashed, Vernon explained.

Jesus Gonzalez, 30, who is married to Garcia, and Alberto Hernandez, 32, are expected to face robbery charges, Vernon said.

It is unclear what charges Garcia might face, he said.

The couple's children were taken into protective custody, Vernon said.

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