November 30, 2004

Convicted Lottery Cheat Wins New Jackpot

BUCHAREST, Romania - A man who went to prison three years ago for claiming that he was robbed of Romania's biggest ever lottery prize has won a new lottery jackpot - this time for real.

Stancu Ogica, a 35-year-old former professional soccer player, claimed in 2001 that he had won a $1 million jackpot but was attacked and robbers stole his winning ticket in the lobby of his apartment building in the capital, Bucharest.

Another man later came forward and claimed the prize.

Ogica was sentenced to two years in prison for attempted fraud and making false statements to the police. His story later became the subject of a film.

On Tuesday, he said he had won on Sunday's draw the sum of about $34,500.

Alhought excited about his new winnings, Ogica insisted to news television Realitatea TV that he won the larger 2001 jackpot. He has appealed to the government to re-examine his case, claiming that evidence went missing before his trial.

"Last time luck was on my side but I couldn't enjoy it," he told the television station.

In 2001, Ogica passed a lie detector test and brought several witnesses claiming to have seen the ticket.

Ogica's past record of insurance fraud and financial problems made police skeptical of his claims in 2001.

The average monthly salary in Romania is about $180.