Two Riverhead men accused of swindling a construction worker out of $75,000 in lottery winnings pleaded not guilty to all charges, including grand larceny and conspiracy, during arraignments in First District Court in Central Islip on Tuesday afternoon. A third man was set to be arraigned, but it was adjourned to a later date.
Orhan Ozturk, 47, and Yunis Ozturk, 33, and a third suspect, Yalcin Nergiz, 41, whose arraignment was adjourned, were indicted by a grand jury on two counts each of second degree grand larceny, two counts of criminal possession of stolen property, and a count of fourth degree conspiracy, all felonies. Orhan Ozturk also pleaded not guilty to two felony counts of first degree offering a false instrument for filing.
Mr. Nergiz is due back in court on May 21 for arraignment when his attorney is able to appear.
Southampton Town Police said that on March 18, Mr. Nergiz, an employee at the Valero Gas Station off Peconic Avenue in Riverside, took a winning New York State Lottery Take 5 ticket from Marvin Choy Nij, a Guatemalan construction worker who told police he cannot speak English, and paid him $774, claiming that was the prize.
Mr. Nergiz and Yunis Ozturk, also an employee at the station, then gave the ticket, valued at $75,000, to Orhan Ozturk, who collected the proceeds—$48,318 after taxes—at the New York Division of the Lottery in Garden City on March 19. The three then split the cash, authorities said.
Police said Mr. Nij grew suspicious when a friend told him that only lottery commission officials could cash tickets worth more than $600, and he saw signs at the Valero boasting of a $75,000 winner. He returned to the station to confront the clerks, who denied any wrongdoing.
Southampton Town Police investigated the incident and arrested the three suspects on April 19. Yunis Ozturk remains incarcerated at the Suffolk County Jail in Riverside in lieu of $50,000 cash bail. Mr. Nergiz is also incarcerated at the county jail without bail, pending his arraignment. Orhan Ozturk was released after posting $10,000 cash bail.