Scammed Lottery Winner Gets $5 Million Prize 7-Years Later
In 2006, Robert Miles walked into a Syracuse convenience store with a winning scratch-off ticket worth $5 million. Seven years and one criminal trial later, Miles will finally be able to cash in his prize.
When Andy and Nayel Ashkar, the owner’s sons at Syracuse’s The Green Ale Market, saw Miles’s winning lottery ticket, they told Miles it was worth just $5,000, not $5 million. Miles, who was battling an addiction to crack cocaine at the time, believed them and accepted their offer of $4,000 cash.
Last year sometime, the Ashkar brothers attempted to cash the winning ticket, which set off an investigation by state gaming officials and, eventually, a criminal trial against the Ashkars.
In May, Andy Ashkar, who worked the counter that day, was convicted of possessing the stolen ticket and was sentenced to 25 years. His brother, Nafel, was acquitted on all charges for lack of evidence. Their father, Nayef Ashkar, who owns the convenience store, pleaded guilty to filing a false instrument and is expected to be tried on conspiracy charges in September.
On Wednesday, lottery officials completed their verification process and officially awarded Miles with the winnings.
вЂњIt’s a matter of paperwork now,вЂќ Lee Park, the New York Lottery spokesman, told NBC News.
Miles, who currently works as a maintenance man at a Syracuse apartment complex, was “elated the lottery prize has finally been awarded him,” according to his attorney, Steve Gamareri.
Miles will have the option of receiving $250,000 annually for the next 20 years, or a lump sum payment of $3.2 million, or $2.1 million after taxes.
Question: if this happened to you, would you take the annual payment of $250,000 (for the next 20 years), or the lump sum of $2.1 million (after taxes)?In 2006, Robert Miles walked into a Syracuse convenience store with a winning scratch-off ticket worth $5 million. Seven years and one criminal trial later, Miles will finally be able to cash in his prize.
Lottery winner Ronald Willis dumps $4.8 million cash in Hidden Hills
A large house in the guard-gated and celebrity-swarmed Hidden Hills community recently sold for $4,800,000 to a couple named Ronald Willis and Yolanda Mangum.
Our Mr. Willis was just an ordinary dude until September 11, 2012, when he beat nearly-insurmountable odds to win $120 million in a mega-millions lottery jackpot. For the TV press conference, Mr. Willis brought along his longtime fiancee Yolanda Mangum (we love your first name, Ms. Mangum!)
Anyway, six years have now passed since the couple’s life-changing financial windfall. We are unsure what all Mr. Willis has been up to since 2012 — he certainly has the means to do nothing but eat bon-bons all day. However, Ms. Mangum has been quite the busy gal. In 2014, she founded Lady MV, a fashion boutique selling trendy clothes (primarily for plus-size ladies). The original store is located in good ol’ Rialto, CA. In 2016, Ms. Mangum opened a second location in nearby Corona.
Last year (2017), Ms. Mangum also gave birth to a daughter with Mr. Willis, making him a father of five. (At least two of his “kids”, however, are already adults.)
Since shortly after their win, the couple have resided in a large house in the swanky Orange County, CA city of Coto de Caza. Yolanda happens to know, however, that the pair have been looking to move back to LA for quite some time now. Though they both lived in the Inland Empire area for several decades prior to their lottery win, Ms. Mangum was born and raised in Compton and Mr. Willis also grew up in the area.
For nearly a year, the couple have been touring pricey mansions in some of LA’s swankiest neighborhoods. They originally began their search in the Beverly Hills Post Office, and Ms. Mangum posted several videos on Instagram of herself at various homes priced up to $8 million in the Benedict and Coldwater Canyon areas. (The sassy Ms. Mangum vocally expressed her displeasure at the quality of homes she saw in the B.H.P.O. — “Hell to the no,” she said about one).
Next, the Mangum-Willis duo shifted their attentions to the hot-hot-hot San Fernando Valley neighborhood of Encino, where they toured just about every big-ass mansion on the market. They toured a spec-mansion with a sports court and they peeped a renovated sprawler that was eventually sold for $6.55 million to YouTube star Logan Paul.
The Encino house that really struck Ms. Mangum’s fancy, however, was a $6.4 million spec-built “modern farmhouse” of nearly 10,000-square-feet. The couple loved it and we believe they even made an offer on the property last fall, but were ultimately outbid by another all-cash buyer: an obviously very wealthy Beverly Hills-based attorney named Lawrence D. Rose.
Despite losing out on the property, Mr. Willis and Ms. Mangum were allegedly not too bothered. After all, the house is nice but the parking situation leaves much to be desired — there is a three-car garage, but the driveway is somewhat awkwardly shared with several smaller adjacent houses. And Mr. Willis drives a $200,000 Mercedes-Benz S65 AMG and a $300,000 Rolls-Royce. Ms. Mangum, for her part, alternates between a $200,000 Range Rover SVAutobiography and her $250,000 Bentley SUV. Trying to park $1 million worth of luxury vehicles in a shared driveway would just never do!
The couple eventually also gave up on Encino and started looking way out west in the celebrity-packed Hidden Hills guard-gated community. Our Ms. Mangum posted a video of their tour through Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson’s former estate, which is not publicly listed for sale but is available as a pocket listing with an asking price that we hear is in the $6 million range.
Ultimately, however, the couple opted to spend a couple million less than they originally planned. Their new $4.8 million house in Hidden Hills is definitely not the newest or biggest pad they toured, but they see the unfinished property as a good investment that will pay off big-time down the road. Take a look and see if y’all agree.
This house is rather unique for a couple of reasons. First off, it is one of the most private properties in all of Hidden Hills. The 1.23-acre estate is set down an epic long driveway and is mostly invisible from the street out front.
Another unique feature is that although the house spans a mansion-sized 8,023-square-feet of living space, it is all single-story and and looks much different than today’s spec-mansions. The structure was originally built in 1965 as a much more modest ranch-style abode. Over the ensuing decades, the house slowly grew and was remodeled several times.
The non-celebrity sellers purchased the property way back in 2003 for just $1,600,000, according to records. Photos show they recently completed a full interior remodel with lots of fancy materials and appliances. The outdoor spaces, however, leave much to be desired — the grounds are a mess, part of the driveway is dirt, and the pool/spa area is unfinished. Perhaps the sellers ran out of money, or (more likely) they decided to flip the unfinished property for a profit in its current state and be done with it.
Anyway, the mini-estate sports a four-car garage with off-street parking options for an additional dozen (or more) vehicles. The wood-and-glass double front doors lead directly — and dramatically — into the expansive great room. Yolanda loves the vaulted beamed ceilings, the custom stone-stacked wall, and 12-foot sliding glass doors, which open to an (unfinished) outdoor entertainers patio.
The great room sports views from one end of the home to the other. We are also a fan of the double-sided fireplace, which sets off the adjacent sitting are quite nicely. Elsewhere there is an intimate family room slash library with real books and real bookshelves. Dark brown hardwood floors set off the whitewashed walls.
The kitchen is decked out with custom wooden cabinetry, a massive SubZero refrigerator, and top-of-the-line Miele appliances. Adjacent is a formal dining room with an elegant carved wooden wall and a contemporary metal chandelier thingy. The master suite sports another stacked-stone fireplace, a sitting area, another vaulted ceiling, and an incongruously icky carpet that we hope Mr. Willis and Ms. Mangum will have the good sense to replace.
Some of the couple’s new Hidden Hills neighbors include Vin Scully, Howie Mandel, DeMar DeRozan, Paul George, Drake, The Weeknd, Kim Kardashian & Kanye West, Kylie Jenner, Kris Jenner, Jessica Simpson, and Melissa Etheridge.
Anywho, a thorough search through property records reveals that Mr. Willis and Ms. Mangum have a substantial real estate portfolio. Since shortly after their lottery win, Mr. Willis and Ms. Mangum have resided in Orange County community of Coto de Caza, another guard-gated city. One of their neighbors is Real Housewives of Orange County star Vicki Gunvalson.
Just two months after their lottery win, records show that Mangum-Willises paid a Chinese couple named Dejun Zou and Jianpeng Qiu $3,700,000 in cash for an enormous (16,505-square-feet of living space!) custom mansion set up a long driveway and behind a private gate. There are 8 beds and 10.25 baths, an infinity-edged swimming pool, and a 10-car air-conditioned garage.
Now kiddies, $3.7 million is a lot of money to most folks, but records show that the sellers — Mr. Zou and Ms. Qiu — actually had paid $5,300,000 for the property only two years prior. So that means they took a massive $1.6 million loss after only two years of ownership! Yowza.
Why would they sell so quickly at such a huge loss? Some online research reveals that this house was the subject of an SEC investigation. Mr. Zou and Ms. Qiu illegally diverted several million dollars from their company to purchase this pad. And once they got wind of the government on their tale, the couple became desperate to unload the beast. Along came the lottery winners and the rest is history.
$1.6 million down the drain! Well, good for Mr. Willis and Ms. Mangum. Bad for Mr. Zou and Ms. Qiu.
In January 2017, the Mangum-Willises threw down $1,575,000 (in cash, naturally) for a ski compound in the winter resort town of Big Bear Lake, CA, up in the snow-capped San Bernardino mountains.
The two-house compound has a celebrity history: it was designed by Oscar de la Hoya, who later sold the property to MMA fighter Tito Ortiz.
Back in November 2012, the lottery-winning couple also paid $1,550,000 for a house in the pricey Palos Verdes Estates community of LA.
It is apparent to Yolanda that the couple do not spend any time living in this structure, which leads us to believe that the house was likely purchased as an investment/income property.
Despite the fact that he has not lived there in six years, records also reveal that Mr. Willis still owns the Rialto condo that he shared with Ms. Mangum before his financial windfall. Way back in 2006, Mr. Willis paid $309,000 for the cramped spot in a large gated complex (his unit has just 1,462-square-feet of living space). Almost immediately following his 2012 lottery win, he quietly transferred ownership of the condo from his name to a blind trust.
Yolanda also uncovered tons of evidence that Mr. Willis and Ms. Mangum may own a waterfront vacation house in the resort community of Lake Havasu City, Arizona, but we were unfortunately unable to pinpoint their abode’s exact address.
Listing agents: Dana Olmes, Jeff Biebuyck, & Peter Radd, Compass
Ronald Willis & Yolanda Mangum’s agent: Will Wheaton, Will Wheaton Real Estate
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