ALBANY, GA (WALB) - In December, one owner and one employee of the Haley Food Mart plead guilty to racketeering charges of selling illegal drugs and fraudulent lottery tickets.
Now the Georgia Lottery Corporation has taken expensive steps to try to keep other store owners from the same fraud. The Georgia Lottery Commission fined Haley Food Mart owner Sonny Patel, employee Yogi Barot, and two other owners $50,000 for permitting illegal activities in their store.
They also revoked the owner's lottery license for at least ten years, after they pay the fine. "The financial reward that one can get from trying to skim the system is what is taken away by these results," said Dougherty D.A. Greg Edwards.
Patel and Barot plead guilty to selling illegal drugs and fraudulent lottery tickets in the store. Investigators say the owners would expose the tickets information, stealing the winners and selling unsuspecting customers the losers.
As part of a plea deal, prosecutors seized $300,000 and the business on South Slappey. Prosecutors and lottery officials are sending a warning about doctoring lottery tickets. "We want to make sure everyone understands we keep an eye out on these things, and help the lottery commission enforce these regulations," Edwards said.
In their criminal sentence, Patel and Barot were put on probation for five years and pre-trial intervention. Now the Lottery Corporation adds more time and fines, to send the message the state wants to keep the games honest.
Another part of the criminal plea was that the store in the 700 block of South Slappey had to be sold, but could not operate as a convenience store for 5 years. An Albany businessman, Siad Ayat, recently bought the property and is now cleaning it up.