Florida Woman ‘Wins’ Lotto – Goes to Prison
Florida Woman Christine Nicole Fenton-Gilbert, 39, of Fort Pierce, was sentenced to 18 months in state prison after she was caught stealing winning tickets, including one worth $20,000 that she admitted buying because she knew it was a winner.
The investigation started when her former manager at the Rebel Store at 4287 Northwest Federal Highway in Jensen Beach noticed “micro-scratches” on $50 and $10 scratch-off tickets for sale at the convenience store; the discovery led investigators with the Florida Department of Lottery to launch a criminal investigation into former clerk Fenton-Gilbert, who was arrested in a scheme to steal winning tickets and pocket the cash.
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Fenton-Gilbert was arrested in July 2022 after Florida Lottery investigators documented her crimes using store surveillance video and statements she provided after being confronted with scratch-off tickets that showed “micro-scratch” marks indicating the tickets had been altered.
State Lottery investigators discovered she was altering scratch-off tickets to “expose play data underneath” and “was observed using her fingernail to change multiple Florida Lottery tickets.
After altering the ticket, Fenton-Gilbert, “would either push the tickets back into the dispenser or leave the tickets attached to the books where they were available for sale to the public,” Florida Lottery Special Agent Bradley A. Trombley wrote in a criminal complaint.
On May 7, 2022, “one $20,000 winning scratch-off ticket was scanned but not validated,” Trombley noted.
According to the affidavit, “After she confirmed the winning ticket of $20,000, she paid for the scratch-off ticket from cash in her back pocket.”
Fenton-Gilbert was found guilty of 16 counts of forging lottery tickets and sentenced to 18 months on each count, all to be served simultaneously.
Judge Roby also ordered her to serve 13 years of probation for one count of grand theft and to pay $20,000 to the Florida Lottery and $1,196 to the Rebel Store in restitution.
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Assistant State Attorney David Lustgarten called Fenton-Gilbert’s sentence “a fair resolution” and said the plea terms noted how she cooperated with law enforcement and had little criminal history.
“The plea deal involved a sentence which was more than the minimum,” Lustgarten said. “In a nutshell, she’s going to prison on her first felonies, and that doesn’t happen too often.”
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