Attorneys say Ashkar case will likely come down to credibility

A judge will soon decide the fate of two brothers who have been accused of scamming a man out of a winning $5 million lottery ticket.
Syracuse (WSYR-TV) - A judge will soon decide the fate of two brothers who have been accused of scamming a man out of a winning $5 million lottery ticket.

Attorneys offered their closing arguments on Friday in the case against Andy and Nayel Ashkar, but not before Andy took the stand.

Asked by his attorney if he took the $5 million scratch off from the alleged victim, Andy Ashkar said, “No. No sir.”

Andy says he’s not sure of the exact date, but that he bought the winning ticket in October 2006 at his family’s Green Ale Market and that he and his brother Nayel waited six years to claim it.

Assistant District Attorney Beth Van Doren said the decisions they claim to have been making defied logic.

"Why? It just didn't make sense. Other than they were waiting for time to pass so witnesses would no longer be around and documents would be lost, or the statute of limitations would pass,” Van Doren said.

Unemployed, on Medicaid, married, and living with his parents in 2006, Van Doren said she can’t imagine why he wouldn’t claim the multi-million-dollar jackpot right away.

Andy Ashkar said that with the market located in a high-crime area, he feared for his family’s safety.

And as a husband by arranged marriage in Palestine, he only knew his wife for a few weeks and wanted to be secure enough in his marriage before telling her.

Ashkar says he didn’t reveal the ticket to his wife until 2008 – after the birth of their child.

On Wednesday, Robert Miles testified that the ticket is his and that Andy Ashkar took it after saying it was only worth $5,000 and then giving the man only $4,000, saying the rest was a cashing fee.

Miles testified that he bought two scratch-offs and the first was a loser.

Andy Ashkar’s attorney says Miles’ story doesn’t add up.

“But, according to all the documentation provided by the state, those tickets, there were four winners in a row, and Mr. Miles' version of the facts could not be possible under that scenario,” said defense attorney Robert Durr.

With distinct stories from both parties, attorneys say the case will come down to their credibility.

Miles admits that he never tried to stop Andy, nor did he immediately tell his co-workers across the street or call police.

His testimony, and that of his co-workers who say they saw the winning ticket in his hands, could be the deciding factor.

Grand larceny charges against the brothers were dropped because the statute of limitations had run out. They are still charged with conspiracy and Andy Ashkar faces stolen property charges.
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