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Cops: 3 charged with stealing lotto prize

Yalcin Nergiz, 41, left, Yuniz Ozturk, 33, center,

Yalcin Nergiz, 41, left, Yuniz Ozturk, 33, center, and Orhan Ozturk, 47, all of Riverhead, have been charged with grand larceny and conspiracy. (April 19, 2013) Credit: Southampton PD

Two convenience store clerks in Riverhead conspired to dupe a 28-year-old man out of his $74,892 lottery prize, police said Saturday.

The clerks at the Valero gas station at 7 Peconic Ave. face felony charges for paying the man a fraction of his winnings from a Take 5 Quick Pick ticket, police said.

When the clerks, Yalcin Nergiz, 41, and Yunis Ozturk, 33, both of Riverhead, scanned the ticket on March 18 and saw how much it was worth, they decided to claim the bulk of the money for themselves, said Det. Sgt. Lisa Costa of the Southampton Town Police Department.

"They gave him $774, patted him on the back and said 'congratulations,' " Costa said. "They really tried to pull one over on him."

Ozturk later gave the winning ticket to his brother, Orhan Ozturk, 47, of Riverhead, who cashed it in with the New York State Lottery, police said.

The trio allegedly split the proceeds.

The victim, a construction worker, realized something was amiss when he learned that only lottery officials were authorized to pay out winnings above $600 -- and that the store where he bought his ticket was boasting a $74,000 winner, police said.

The man, whose name was not released, returned to the station, but he was rebuffed by the clerks, according to police.

In investigating the case, Southampton police worked with the New York State Lotto Commission, the owner of the Valero and the Suffolk County district attorney's Economic Crimes Bureau.

The suspects were arrested Friday and arraigned Saturday in Southampton Justice Court.

All three are charged with grand larceny and conspiracy. Bail was set at $50,000 cash for the clerks, and $10,000 cash for Orhan Ozturk.

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