By Allison Klein
Originally published August 18, 2004
A 19-year-old high school student who tried to trick Maryland Lottery officials into paying him $175,000 for a fraudulent ticket pleaded guilty yesterday in Baltimore District Court to the scheme.
John Gilbert Jr. of the 1600 block of Wilkens Ave. was sentenced to 50 hours of community service and six months of probation for one count of presenting a counterfeit ticket for payment.
According to prosecutors, Gilbert taped together the top half of a losing Mega Millions ticket with the bottom half of a ticket showing the winning numbers he played the day after the drawing.
He presented the doctored ticket to officials at the Maryland State Lottery Agency in South Baltimore on Jan. 12 and demanded winnings of $175,000. But workers immediately knew something was amiss.
“The top half has the date, and the bottom half has codes built into it,” said Assistant Attorney General David L. Goldberg, who prosecuted the case.
When Lottery officials told Gilbert to leave the building, he resisted at first but later complied begrudgingly, Goldberg said.
Days later, Gilbert returned to the Lottery office with a letter - typed and signed by him - which said that his ticket was legitimate and that he did not like the way he had been treated.
Shortly after, he was arrested. After inspecting Gilbert’s bogus ticket, officials determined he was wrong about something else: He had altered the ticket to mimic a winning ticket worth $26 million, not $175,000.
“He didn’t count in the Powerball,” Goldberg said.