South Carolina officials probe lottery theft

 

The South Carolina Law Enforcement Division is conducting an investigation after numerous people attempted to cash in stolen lottery tickets in North Augusta.

At least five cases have been reported since Aug. 2.

In most cases, the people who attempted to cash the tickets claimed to have found them in areas around Augusta. Reports stated the unscratched tickets were discovered at businesses on Washington Road, at the Knight’s Inn in Augusta and on Broad Street. One woman, a maid at Knight’s Inn, told police she found the ticket in a room and believed it had been left as a tip.

The North Augusta Department of Public Safety made contact with most of the people trying to cash tickets. But in one case on Aug. 2, a man, who was accompanied by a woman, ran from the store clerk when the clerk learned the tickets were stolen and told him a manager would have to give her permission to cash them.

The clerk told police the man had arrived with a handful of tickets but only handed her one.

Police made four arrests before handing the case over to SLED. Not all of the ticket holders were charged. Lt. Tim Thornton said some of those charged attempted to cash the tickets at more than one store after being told they were stolen.

Police charged Jeremy Nathaniel Reeves, 25, and Lexis Fay Russell, 22, both of Grovetown, with possession of stolen property. The couple told authorities they discovered the tickets outside 2nd & Charles on Washington Road and had 18 more in their possession.

Police also charged Robert Brian Davis, 45, and Wanda Anita Mims, 32, both of Augusta, with lottery fraud.

According to an incident report, the tickets appear to have been stolen from a store in Clarks Hill. McCormick County authorities told North Augusta officers that surveillance cameras showed a woman taking the tickets from the store.

Lt. Tim Thornton said when cases continued to be reported, police contacted SLED, which advised investigators the problem was more widespread than just North Augusta. SLED took over the investigation.

A SLED spokesman did not immediately return calls seeking further information.

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