Woman guilty of falsely claiming jackpot prize

Wednesday, April 7, 2004

SOUTH EUCLID, Ohio -- A woman who claimed that she bought and lost a $162 million lottery ticket was found guilty Tuesday of filing a false police report. She was fined $1,000 and ordered to perform 50 hours of community service. Elecia Battle, 41, of Cleveland, also was ordered to pay $5,596.71 in restitution for police overtime, security and other costs related to the case. Battle reached an agreement with prosecutors that called for her to plead no contest to the misdemeanor charge with the understanding that she would be found guilty. She could have gotten six months in jail. "I have not been defeated. I'm victorious," Battle said after the sentencing. "I still turned out as a winner." Shortly after a Dec. 30 lottery drawing, Battle filed a police report saying she had bought the winning ticket but lost it. A few days later, another woman produced the winning ticket and claimed the jackpot.

Battle sued to block payment but later dropped her lawsuit and tearfully apologized, all but admitting she made up her hard-luck story.

She pleaded no contest on Jan. 15 and was found guilty, then withdrew her plea on Feb. 12.

The case has been bad luck for a city already going through hard times financially.

The city of 24,000 people missed out on $1.4 million in expected income taxes on the jackpot because South Euclid never updated its charter so it could tax lottery winnings. Then, it had to pay thousands to investigate the case, guard the real winner's home and secure City Hall.

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