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Disputed lottery ticket is found

WESTBOROUGH -- Police have found a missing $20,000 lottery ticket that a college student said was snatched out of her hand by the clerk at the Westborough store where she bought it.

"The Lottery Commission has verified it through the numbers," police Sergeant Russell Johnson said.

Lottery officials have to visually inspect the scratch-off ticket before Erika Schmitt, 18, can claim her prize.

"We have notified her, and obviously she is excited," Johnson said.

There might be some delay before the money is in Schmitt's pocket, because the ticket is evidence in the case against the Quik Mart store clerk charged with stealing it.

Antoine Y. Reiche, 34, of Westborough, was arraigned earlier this month on a charge of larceny over $250 after police said he snatched the ticket from Schmitt and told her it was worth only $100. He pleaded not guilty and was freed on $1,000 bail.

Schmitt, a freshman at the University of Massachusetts at Amherst, has to file an appeal with the Lottery Commission to claim the ticket, but might have to wait until Reiche's court case concludes before she can have it, police said.

Schmitt said she went to the store and bought a $2 Lucky Star ticket. She scratched it in the store and uncovered 10 stars, for the game's $20,000 grand prize.

But when she told the clerk, he allegedly grabbed the ticket and told her it showed only six stars, which is a $100 prize. He refused to show her the ticket when she demanded to see it, so she went to police.

When police asked Reiche for the ticket, he said he threw it away. Police did not say how they recovered the ticket or where it was found.

The Lottery Commission suspended the store's lottery sales license.

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