Wallingford men granted accelerated rehabilitation in lottery case

Wallingford men granted accelerated rehabilitation in lottery case

Record-Journal
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FILE PHOTO -- In this Aug. 19, 2016 photo, a lottery ticket is scanned at a store in Shelton, Conn. (Christian Abraham/Hearst Connecticut Media via AP)

NEW HAVEN — Two Wallingford men facing larceny charges in connection with the 5 Card Cash lottery game were granted accelerated rehabilitation during an appearance in New Haven Superior Court on Wednesday.

Rahul Gandhi and Prakunj Patel, both of 37 Jobs Road, Wallingford, were arrested in March 2016 by the state Department of Consumer Protection Gaming Division. Both were initially charged with first-degree larceny, first-degree computer crime and rigging. Gandhi is 44, and Patel was born in 1979, according to court records.

The charge of first-degree computer crime and rigging was later dropped.

Judge Patrick Clifford granted their applications for accelerated rehabilitation, which is for first time offenders, and placed them in the program for two years. Clifford ordered them not to be involved in retail lottery sales. An attorney representing the men provided proof that Gandhi had repaid about $74,000 to the state and Patel repaid about $62,000. If they successfully complete the programs, charges will be dropped in September 2019

The charges stem from an investigation into the 5 Card Cash lottery game at retail locations throughout the state that began in 2015.

According to Gandhi’s arrest warrant, Connecticut Lottery Corporation swapped out five terminals at stores throughout the state after identifying the locations as having a higher percentage of winning 5 Card Cash tickets. The five stores were located in New Haven, East Hartford, Bethel, Stamford, Meriden and Danbury.

The 5 Card Cash game involves a customer receiving a ticket with five playing card symbols printed out randomly.

There are instant and daily drawing win chances. The maximum prize for an instant win is $5,555 and the maximum prize for a daily drawing is $255,555. An investigator conducting routine inspections of several locations noticed suspicious stacks of printed 5 Card Cash tickets at two locations, the warrant noted.

Investigators discovered that if the clerk printing the ticket manipulates the terminal while running a report, they are able to see the symbols that will print out on the next ticket, the warrant said.

The clerk can then cancel the transaction for a losing ticket or proceed with the transaction for a winning ticket.

Westville Quality Market on Alden Avenue in New Haven was one of the stores investigated. Patel is the owner of the store, the warrant said.

The investigation showed the terminal in the store was manipulated. An investigator went to the store on Nov. 9, 2015, and met with Gandhi, also of Wallingford, who identified himself as the store manager, the warrant noted.

Gandhi initially denied manipulating the machine but later admitted to it after investigators confronted him with evidence, the warrant said.

According to the warrant, the store received $216,050 more than it would have without the manipulation.


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