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Two from Windom charged with theft of lottery tickets

WINDOM -- Two Windom teens are facing felony charges after allegedly stealing lottery scratch-off tickets and turning some of them in for prize money.

Andrew Michael Peterson and Nathan Orion Haberman Burch, both 18 and from Windom, are charged with misdemeanor theft, third-degree burglary, a felony, and state lottery fraud, a felony.

The criminal complaint states 100 $5 Minnesota Lottery tickets were stolen from a locked filing cabinet at KDOM. When an employee looked for them on April 6, the day a promotion was supposed to begin, the tickets were missing.

Later that day, the employee told authorities Minnesota Lottery had contacted him and said three of the stolen tickets had been cashed in by Haberman the night before at a convenience store in Windom. Haberman allegedly tried to cash in several other tickets, but by then they had been reported stolen. The manager had Haberman write his name, address and phone number on the tickets in case the lottery wanted to pay out the winnings.

On April 7, an officer with the Windom Police Department spoke with Haberman about the tickets. Haberman stated he and his cousin, Peterson, had been given the tickets by a stranger while they were walking on Sixth Avenue. The officer told Haberman he found it unbelievable that someone would give away winning tickets that had already been scratched off.

Haberman then allegedly admitted he and his cousin had the rest of the tickets, which were at Peterson's house. He called his cousin and had him bring the remaining tickets to his house. A short time later, Peterson showed up at Haberman's house with 21 winning tickets. All three then went to Peterson's house, where Peterson removed the rest of the missing tickets from a trash container.

During a formal interview, Peterson and Haberman allegedly explained to the officer how they had gained entrance to the KDOM building, found a key to the locked cabinet and removed the lottery tickets. They said they redeemed three winners that night, but when they tried to cash in more the next day, they were told the tickets were flagged. The manger, Haberman stated, had him write his information on one of the tickets. The tickets were kept at Peterson's house because Haberman had no place to put them.

Both men are scheduled to make a first court appearance May 4 at the Cottonwood County Courthouse. The charges carry a maximum combined penalty of 15 years and 90 days incarceration and/or $61,000 in fines.