Iowa Lottery Fraudsters Jointly Liable to Repay Winnings, Judge Rules

Posted on: April 22, 2024, 06:01h. 

Last updated on: April 22, 2024, 06:01h.

Two Iowa roommates convicted of lottery fraud are jointly liable to repay $30K to the state lottery, a state court judge has ruled.

Sandy Crow, Sandra Crow, Alvin Hans Larsen III, Iowa Lottery, fraud
Sandy Crow is pictured after cashing in her roommate’s ticket at the Iowa Lottery office in Cedar Rapids in November 2022. The pair have been ordered to repay the full amount. (Image: Iowa Lottery)

Sandra “Sandy” Crow was found to have fraudulently claimed the $30K prize on a winning $3 Candy Cane Crossword scratch ticket that had been purchased by her roommate, Alvin Hans Larsen III. The pair, of Evansdale Iowa, concocted a scheme in November 2022 to pass off Crow as the winner so that Larsen could avoid paying money owed to the state, The Quad City Times reports.

Crow was convicted of misdemeanor lottery fraud in a November 2023 trial and fined $500 plus costs and surcharges. Larsen pleaded guilty to misdemeanor lottery fraud a month earlier and was given a deferred judgment that will remove the case from his record following two years’ probation.

In Iowa Lottery promotional material, Crow is pictured beaming at the camera while holding an outsized novelty check for $30K. She opted to take the $21,300 lump sum, according to the lottery.

Roommates Fall Out

But things began to unravel for the pair when police were called to their home following reports of a domestic disturbance a month after the lottery win. When the officers arrived, they heard Crow and Larsen arguing about the money.

“I cashed the ticket in. I wasn’t entitled to the money,” Crow was heard saying, according to the police report.

“Yeah, it’s fraud. She is saying I won it,” Larsen told one of the officers.

Crow added: “He begged me to cash it so he didn’t have to pay any money he owed.” She then changed her story, claiming the ticket had been a gift from Larsen.

But when police interviewed Larsen about the ticket, he said that wasn’t true, and spilled the beans. He had been trying to avoid paying a $560 debt, he admitted.

Win Invalidated

In court last month, Crow’s attorney, Kimberly DePalma, argued that restitution should be limited to the $560 debt, not the full $30K the Iowa Lottery was asking for, since the ticket was a genuine winner.

“It is uncontested that the ticket involved in this case did validly win $30,000. There was no claim it was a fake or forged ticket,” DePalma wrote in court filings.

But District Court Judge John Sullivan ruled that the fraudulent claim invalidated the win, and the full amount should be returned. Crow “had no legal right to possess or present the ticket for redemption. Thus, under the statute, (she) was not entitled to receive the prize,” he determined.