Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Fraud-attempt victim ends up lotto richer

Perpetrator avoids jail but might be deported

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A former Winnipeg gas-bar clerk and father of three who tried to cheat a lottery winner has avoided jail.

But strangely, the crime proved profitable for the victim.

Ashwinder Singh, 32, was handed an 18-month conditional sentence plus probation in provincial court Thursday for attempted fraud.

Now he is worried immigration officials will try to toss him out of Canada.

In July 2011, Singh intentionally didn't return a ticket to a Lotto 6/49 customer at the Mandalay Avenue gas station where he worked, then tried to claim more than $90,000 in winnings from the Western Canada Lottery Corp. (WCLC) when the ticket won big.

The unusual feature of Singh's case is how the 61-year-old victim actually came out with more than double what he would have won if Singh hadn't illegally pocketed the ticket.

An investigation by lottery officials revealed he was the rightful owner of not only the multi-draw ticket Singh failed to return, but also another winning ticket for the same draw, netting him more than $180,000 in the end.

Singh's sentence means immigration officials may try to have the Indian citizen deported because of the criminal conviction, his first in Canada. Judge Brian Corrin rejected his bid for a sentence of less than six months that would have kept potential deportation proceedings off the table. Singh has status as a permanent resident of Canada and is not considered a citizen.

The victim always played the same numbers but bought a new one at a different gas station after thinking he simply lost or misplaced the one Singh pinched, Crown attorney Mitchell Lavitt told court previously.

Corrin found Singh posed no danger to the public and agreed not to send him to jail.

But he did find that Singh failed to appreciate his crime wasn't victimless and had only a "tenuous and disingenuous" grasp of his offence.

Quoting from a pre-sentence report, Singh said the WCLC suffered no losses because they were able to find the rightful owner of the ticket, Corrin said.

Singh had "special access" to lottery-ticket terminals, the judge noted. The crime had the potential to cause losses not just to the general public, but also to his employer and the WCLC.

"Mr. Singh's motivation was solely greed," Corrin concluded.

james.turner@freepress.mb.ca

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition September 13, 2013 A6

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