A Texas woman has pleaded guilty to a felony charge and faces up to four years in prison for stealing her cousin’s $1 million New York state lottery jackpot, officials said.
Iris Amador Argueta, 34, pleaded guilty Friday to one count of second-degree grand larceny after she allegedly stole a $1 million scratch-off ticket from her cousin and claimed more than $500,000 for her award in November 2020, according to press release from Nassau. County District Attorney’s Office.
Argueta’s cousin bought a $5 Hold ‘Em Poker scratch-off ticket from the New York State Lottery in October 2020 that indicated he won the $1 million Jackpot prize, according to the press release.
The cousin asked Argueta to cash in the winning lottery ticket in exchange for $50,000 because he wanted to remain anonymous, the district attorney’s office said.
Argueta, who lived in Virginia at the time, drove to her cousin’s residence, took possession of the winning ticket and mailed it into the New York State Lottery to claim the winnings, according to police. She chose to receive the prize money as a one-time lump sum from lottery officials totaling more than $537,000, according to a press release from lottery officials in December 2020.
Argueta told her cousin that the lottery ticket won only $20,000 and gave him an envelope with $13,436, claiming the rest was taken out for taxes, according to the district attorney’s office. Argueta even presented her cousin with forged paperwork from lottery officials detailing the winners, according to police.
Argueta’s lawyer, Lauriano Guzman, declined to comment in a phone call with CNN. The New York State Gaming Commission referred comment to the district attorney’s office.
It wasn’t until the victim came across a press release from the New York State Lottery that he found out that his cousin had been announced as the winner who claimed the $1 million dollar prize, and that she had received over $500,000, said district attorney’s office.
The victim called Argueta after seeing the press release, insisting she didn’t have any extra money and saying there would be “legal consequences” if he continued to contact her, according to the district attorney.
Argueta was arrested in November 2021 in Texas. In May, she forfeited $317,857 in winnings from her bank account, which were returned to her cousin, the district attorney’s office said.
Argueta is expected to be sentenced March 15 to 1-1/3 years to 4 years in prison, according to the district attorney’s office.