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Rockland lottery-scam suspects face new trial in January

From left, Atif Ali, Riaz Khan and Mubeen

From left, Atif Ali, Riaz Khan and Mubeen Ashraf were each charged with grand larceny after allegedly persuading a $3 million lottery winner to hand over his ticket to avoid being deported. Ali, 30, pleaded guilty and agreed to repay $218,000 to the immigrant while the charges against Ashraf and Khan were dismissed, Rockland County prosecutors said. Ali was a clerk at the store where the customer bought the ticket (Oct. 16, 2012) Photo Credit: Rockland County district attorney's office

Rockland County prosecutors will try again in the case of three men accused of swindling an illegal immigrant out of $3 million in lottery winnings after a mistrial was declared Tuesday, a spokeswoman for the district attorney's office said.

A new trial date of Jan. 13 has been set for Atif Ali, 29, of Spring Valley; Riaz Khan, 46, of Monroe; and Mubeen Ashraf, 24, of Monroe, who each face up to 25 years in prison if found guilty of first-degree grand larceny for telling the victim he would be deported to his native Guatemala if he claimed the winnings.

Judge William K. Nelson declared the mistrial after jurors deliberated Friday, Monday and Tuesday in Rockland County Court in New City without reaching a verdict.

Prosecutors said Elfido DeLaRoca, 45, of Spring Valley, bought a number of New York Lottery scratch-off tickets on Feb. 3, 2011, at a Spring Valley convenience store where Ali worked as a clerk. One of the tickets proved to be a $3 million winner.

Ali then contacted Khan, the store's former owner, and Ashraf, and the three then conspired to keep DeLaRoca from claiming his prize by convincing him that doing so would expose that he was in the country illegally and would trigger deportation proceedings against him, prosecutors said.

DeLaRoca was persuaded to give the winning ticket to Ali, who claimed the prize and received the first of 20 $150,000 annual payments, prosecutors charged. Four more annual payments were allegedly advanced to Ali and his co-conspirators by a finance company and were deposited directly into a bank account set up to stash the stolen winnings.

The Rockland County district attorney's office declined further comment Wednesday.

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