Ten months ago, Andy Ashkar, was receiving congratulatory calls after news spread that he and his brother claimed a $5 million lottery prize. This week, Ashkar is behind bars after a judge sentenced him to 8 to 25 years for having the ticket that was stolen from his parents' convenience store.
During his sentencing on Tuesday in Syracuse, N.Y., Onondaga County Court Judge Joseph Fahey told Ashkar, 35, "You exhibited some of the most rapacious greed I've seen in a long, long time."
In May, Judge Fahey convicted Ashkar of criminal possession of stolen property.
Robert Durr, attorney for Ashkar, said he has filed a notice of appeal and now has a year to file an appeal.
"I think he was stunned at the severity of the sentence as was I, based on the fact that he has no previous criminal history whatsoever," Durr said of his client. "He has never been in trouble, has two young children and a wife to support. He did not realize any gain from this whatsoever. It seems that the sentence was excessive."
Ashkar, who was a finance manager at a car dealership, is behind bars at the Onondaga County Justice Center, says Durr.
Last October, Ashkar and his brother made headlines for claiming a scratch-off lottery ticket they purchased at their parent's convenience store six years ago, just 11 days before the deadline to collect. At the time, Ashkar claimed he did not want the winning ticket to influence his engagement and subsequent marriage.
Police and lottery officials said the brothers convinced Robert Miles that the ticket was worth only $5,000 when Miles bought it into the store in 2006, as reported by the Associated Press. Prosecutors said the brothers paid Miles $4,000, took a $1,000 handling fee, then waited to claim the ticket.
Miles said he wasn't thinking clearly that day because he had been high on crack cocaine the night before, the Associated Press reported.
Miles could not be reached for comment. His attorney, Steve Cambareri, did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Ashkar's brother was cleared of conspiracy charges. Their father, Nayef, owner of the store where the ticket was sold, is charged with conspiracy and has a separate trial scheduled for September, the AP said.