Three Riverhead men who allegedly swindled a Guatemalan construction worker out of his $75,000 Take 5 lottery winnings will be arraigned on a grand jury indictment on Tuesday, May 14, in First District Court in Central Islip, officials said this week.
Originally scheduled for Wednesday, May 8, the arraignment was postponed due to a need for a Turkish interpreter, according to Robert Clifford, a spokesperson for Suffolk County District Attorney Thomas Spota. The suspects will now appear before Acting State Supreme Court Justice Fernando Camacho on Tuesday.
Yunis Ozturk, 33, and Orhan Ozturk, 47, brothers and employees at the Valero gas station on Peconic Avenue in Riverside, are accused of paying the victim—identified in online court documents as Marvin Choy Nij, 28—only $774 of the $74,892 in winnings when he attempted to redeem his ticket at the station on March 18. Yunis and Orhan Ozturk, and accomplice Yalcin Nergiz, 41, then cashed the ticket at the New York Lottery customer service center in Garden City and split $48,318.27—the proceeds after taxes, authorities said.
Mr. Nij, who police said does not speak English, later learned that only the lotto commission is permitted to make payments exceeding $600, and also heard reports that the store had sold a winning ticket for the larger amount. He returned to the store to confront the clerks, but was turned away. Southampton Town Police arrested the three men on April 19 after a joint investigation by detectives and lottery officials.
According to online court records, all three will be indicted on two counts of second-degree grand larceny, two counts of second-degree criminal possession of stolen property and one count of fourth-degree conspiracy, all felonies. Orhan Ozturk will also be arraigned on two additional felony counts of first-degree offering a false instrument for filing, records state.
Mr. Nergiz and Yunis Ozturk remain incarcerated at the Suffolk County Jail in Riverside in lieu of $100,000 bond or $50,000 cash bail. Orhan Ozturk was released on April 20 after posting $10,000 cash bail, according to a corrections officer.
A spokeswoman for the New York State Gaming Commission said last week that she could not confirm if Mr. Nij had received his winnings.