This is one of those curious stories you run across every once in a while.
I mean, when one of your jobs is to sell lottery tickets, and you steal more than half a million tickets, do you really think no one will ever notice?
One of Deborah Strong’s duties as a Kroger customer service employee was refilling the lottery scratch-off ticket machine inside the company’s Westwood , Ohio store.
If any tickets were left over, she’d just stick them in her pocket.
But store officials, who reported her to police, said they believe Strong stole $530,000 in scratch-off ticket winnings since 2006.
According to news reports I’ve read, Strong apparently used the money to fuel her gambling habit.
In court, Strong, 53, of Westwood, admitted she stole $189,000 worth of scratch-off tickets – and she could go to prison for up to five years for it.
Talk about a gambling addiction.
Strong reminded the judge that not all of those tickets were “winners.”
“A lot of them are losers,” Strong said. “It’s not like I got that much money.”
The judge wondered what she did with the money she won.
“It wasn’t like I had it at one time,” Strong answered. “I was taking some tickets every day, but it didn’t seem like $189,000.”
That’s because, she was talomg 500-ticket rolls.
Store officials said their investigation revealed the company lost $530,000 from Strong pocketing the tickets..
Strong had to steal at least $10,000 worth of tickets each month. “It fit in my pants pockets. It couldn’t have been that much,” Strong replied.
Strong was caught because some of the tickets were $5,000 and $10,000 winners.
When those are redeemed, the Lottery Commission requires the winners to submit their Social Security numbers.
After Kroger discovered in January it had a major lottery ticket theft problem, it compared the names of lottery winners’ who redeemed those big-cash winners with the names of their employees.
Strong’s name came up.
This isn’t the first time Strong has been convicted of stealing, especially from employers.
When she is sentenced June 1, Strong can be sent to prison for from one to five years.