ORWIGSBURG, Pa. (AP) — A couple who helped steal more than $175,000 from a grocery store where they worked used that money to buy a winning $1 million lottery ticket from the same store, state police said.
Joan Lechleitner, 51, and her fiance, Kerry Titus, 54, both of Pottsville, were charged Tuesday along with two other former employees with stealing from the Agway store in Cressona. They rang up bogus returns and pocketed the money from May 2011 until March 2016, police said in a criminal complaint.
And some of the stolen money was used to buy lottery tickets, including the Cash 5 ticket worth more than $1 million on Sept. 11.
Four winners split the prize of $1,047,618, with Lechleitner winning $261,904.50, state lottery officials said.
Lechleitner had previously told the (Pottsville) Republican Herald that Titus bought the ticket. She told the newspaper that they used the money to buy a 2015 Chevy Silverado pickup and planned to honeymoon in Mexico and build a backyard pool.
Online court records list James Conville as the defense attorney for Lechleitner and Titus, who was the store’s manager. Conville didn’t immediately return a call Wednesday seeking comment on the theft, conspiracy and records tampering charges they face. A preliminary hearing has been set for July 5.
The store’s owner installed hidden cameras in January that showed the suspects stealing the money and buying lottery tickets, police said. A forensic audit and statements from the defendants helped police determine the amount stolen.
The store’s owner, Ronald Yordy, told police he had to borrow money to keep the store afloat because of the thefts.