Nassau County police charged with first-degree robbery a Syosset man who they said threatened a Food Express store clerk with a box cutter while demanding the clerk give him the $290 he should have received for selecting winning lottery numbers.
Michael Sullo, 43, of 41 Jean Place, is scheduled to be arraigned Saturday in First District Court in Hempstead on charges of first-degree robbery and fourth-degree criminal possession of a weapon.
He was arrested Friday night after an altercation with Ketankumar B. Patel, the store clerk, when he entered the Jericho Turnpike store in Syosset with a losing ticket that did not display the winning numbers he had selected, police and Patel said.
Sullo plays the same three-digit numbers every day. But Patel's brother, a store employee, had mistakenly transposed the digits into the computer that day when Sullo played the Numbers game, so Sullo returned to the store at about 7 p.m. and spoke to Patel, Patel said Saturday.
The winning numbers for the game that day were 5-0-2, according to the New York Lottery. Patel said that the employee transposed two of the digits, making Sullo's digits 5-2-0.
Sullo could not be reached for comment, but Patel said he gave Sullo $40, a portion of what he would have won, and then left the store as his shift had ended and entered his vehicle in the parking lot.
Sullo followed him and pulled out the box cutter, police said, adding that Patel, fearing for his life, told Sullo he could collect the remaining $250 at the store.
"He told me to 'Give me the $250,' " Patel said, adding that Sullo said, 'I'm going to stab you and your family and cut all the tires in your car.' I was scared so after that happened I came to the store and we gave him $250."
Patel said that Sullo had also snatched his cellphone, hurled it to the ground and stomped on it.
Sullo got the money at the store and drove away, but Second Precinct patrol officers arrested him after spotting him on the street a short time later, police said.
"It's a mistake," Patel said of the numbers mix-up. "But it goes both ways. You're supposed to check your ticket before you leave the counter. This is not nice to threaten somebody with a cutter for only $250. You should talk it out."