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How British professional gambler took aim at $25.8M Lotto jackpot in Connecticut

Jon Lender, The Hartford Courant on

Published in News & Features

Those security efforts come at a time when the quasi-public lottery corporation and the DCP, its state regulator, are still dealing with recriminations about a 2015 retailer fraud scandal that forced the shutdown of the 5 Card Cash game.

The two key officials involved in overseeing the unusual ticket-buying activities are new in their jobs this year, after replacing longtime administrators who retired. But both have had long law enforcement careers. Hsieh served as a special agent in the FBI and Walerysiak as deputy police chief in Meriden.

Marantelli and his associates went about their business without attracting any public notice in Stamford -- and their story is surfacing here for the first time, after Government Watch obtained security memos via a public records request.

The lottery agency learned of Marantelli's effort from the gambler himself. He approached the CLC in hopes that special arrangements could be made for him to buy tickets in huge batches.

"He initially asked if CLC would be able to set up additional terminals at lottery headquarters (in Rocky Hill) to accommodate him," Walerysiak wrote in the Oct. 28 email to Hsieh, "but I told him that we could not because we need to treat him just like any other customer. He was told that he could use any of our 2,900 retailers to buy his tickets."

"Marantelli was very cordial and understanding in my conversation with him," Walerysiak wrote, adding that "we are getting automated updates and alerts on the retailers he is using and the amount of cash he is spending."

 

He said he and his people would "continue to monitor" the situation, and on Oct. 31 he sent an email to several officials, including Hsieh and Lottery Corp. CEO Gregory Smith, saying, "Each day I will be updating you all on the Lotto transactions by Bernard Marantelli."

Walerysiak then listed increases above normal Lotto ticket sales for the previous day, Oct. 30, at seven Stamford stores he believed the Marantelli team was using. Of those, Park View Variety at 233 Main St. and Atlantic Market at 209 Atlantic St. had the biggest increases above their normal daily Lotto sales levels ($110,000 and $65,000 above normal, respectively).

He also included an eighth ticket outlet on his list -- the CLC headquarters in Rocky Hill, where customers not only can cash big winning tickets, but also can buy them. Marantelli was also buying tickets at the headquarters, where Lotto sales for Oct. 30 were $25,000 above normal, Walerysiak wrote.

Nobody outside of Marantelli and his circle knows exactly how many tickets he purchased, and so far he's not telling. But one indication is that the weekly Lotto ticket sales volume at Atlantic Market alone increased from the normal level of $1,000 or $1,500 to more than $519,000 for the week that ended Nov. 2, the day after the $25.8 million jackpot drawing.

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