Tri-City Ledger -

By Gretchen McPherson
Ledger Staff 

Couple arrested for lottery theft


January 11, 2018

A Brewton couple is facing felony charges of stolen property worth $50,000 or more following an investigation into missing money and lottery tickets at the convenient store they worked in.

Jonathan Ryan Boswell, 25, and Sommer Marie Lovett, 36, 61 Jernigan Road, were arrested on Dec. 22, 2017, when law enforcement responded to a complaint by Alan Mack Billy, owner of Sandhandle Lotto, located at 15405 Highway 87, North in Jay after he suspected the former manager of the store, Boswell of stealing from the register and cashing in Florida Lottery scratch off tickets. Lovett was arrested as a result of the investigation that followed the complaint, according to a Santa Rosa County Sheriff's Office report.

In October 2017, Boswell reported a burglary to the business reporting that an unknown amount of cash was stolen from the cash bag and lottery vending machine. The report stated deputies arrived and found no forced entry to support the claims and while law enforcement were looking for any form of evidence, Boswell informed them that he had spoken with the owner, Billy, and stated that they no longer wished to pursue the case.

The report said on Dec. 5, Billy told a responding deputy that Boswell had told him the investigation would involve closing the store for a couple of days, which the business couldn't afford. The deputy informed the owner at that time that the investigation would have only taken an hour or so and business would not be affected, which the owner said Boswell did not tell him.

That same day, Billy hired Ronda Rogers to come help find out what happened to the cash and lottery tickets, the report said. Rogers was told by Lovett, Boswell's alleged wife, who also worked at the store, that there was no paperwork upon closing the store, and for Rogers to just put the money in a box under the counter and lock the scratch off machine before Lovett left the store to Rogers on her first day and left to run errands.

Once Lovett left, the report said Rogers began running daily, weekly and monthly reports on the lottery terminals and discovered a five week period during Oct. through Dec. that 190 books of documentation between the values of $1 and $25 of scratch off tickets totaling $90,600 had been settled. Rogers told authorities she then checked the report that was last taken on the Lottery machine on Dec. 1, and it stated the total was $15,319 and she only collected $536 from the machine, the report said.

On Dec. 10, a deputy spoke with Joseph Stauch, at the Berrydale Kwik Mart, who stated that Boswell approached him about cashing some scratch-off tickets at the Kwik Mart. Stauch told authorities Boswell told him that he had approximately $4,000 worth of tickets to cash. Stauch said he asked Boswell why he had so many winning tickets and Boswell informed him that he had figured out which numbers were winning, according to the report.

Stauch told Boswell he could only cash $500 if it was available at the register. Stauch told authorities Boswell's wife, Lovett, came by Berrydale Kwik Mart a few weeks before attempting to cash some tickets, but Stauch did not have $500 to cash tickets at that time. Stauch told authorities he is a member of Dixonville Fire Department that Boswell is also a member of. Stauch indicated that he heard Boswell had recently purchased a new motorcycle from Kenny Motor Sports in brewton and also a truck from his (Boswell's) father-in-law and another vehicle from a car dealership in Brewton.

During the investigation, it was determined that between Nov. 20 and Nov. 21, 2017, 314 tickets were scanned, the report stated. Of those, 16 of them were winners and had to be confirmed at the lottery office in Pensacola due to their amounts. Boswell cashed in 15 of those tickets totaling $1,300. The total of the face value for all the tickets is $4,976, and the value of the winning ones if $3,601. The owner indicated that the money is always short when Boswell and Lovett work, and given this ticket discrepancy information, the couple potentially stole $8,577 just on Nov. 20 and Nov. 21.

On Dec. 18, Rogers met with authorities and provided information that the actual amount owed to the Florida Lottery is $47,100, which had to be paid by Dec. 28, 2017, or Florida Lottery would remove all lottery machines and tickets from his store.

The report said Rogers said there were early indicators that the store is short close to $150,000 in lottery funds. Figures calculated during the investigation estimated the actual amount owed is $137,700 and is continuing to rise.

Investigators noticed surveillance cameras and asked about footage, the report said. Rogers told authorities when they contacted ADT, they were informed that Boswell and Lovett were indicated as owners, and could be the only people to receive password information. Owner Billy was told to contact them and advise them what was going on and stop paying the bill until ADT sent someone out, if necessary.

When investigators discovered the Jernigan Road address was no good, they attempted to reach him through the volunteer fire department he told Stauch he worked with. When Boswell did not respond on an emergency medical that deputies heard as they searched for Boswell. The deputies did speak with some of Boswell's fellow volunteers who stated that he has not been around much lately and one indicated he had been told that Boswell stole and bunch of money and was laying low, the report said.

Deputies learned Boswell and Lovett had arrived at the investigative office for the sheriff. Boswell was read his Miranda Rights and spoke to authorities. During questioning about the events of the investigation, Boswell became confrontational and told deputies he had bought the lottery tickets. Boswell continued to deny ever scratching tickets that he did not pay for and stated he never stole money from the store, according to the report.

Next, Lovett was read her Miranda Rights and informed that the Florida Lottery advised authorities that employees at the store are scanning tickets looking for winners and she and Boswell are the only store employees.

Lovett denied either of them was scanning tickets, other than the ones customers bring in. The deputy informed Lovett that normally about 50 tickets are scanned in the two-day period when 314 were scanned and that Boswell cashed in the 15 biggest winners of those 314. Lovett continued to state that she just scanned her customer's tickets.

Further questioning about Lovett seeing Boswell scratching off tickets at the store or brought home to scratch were met with "no". The deputy informed Lovett that evidence provided from store owner Billy and the Florida Lottery would prompt a warrant for her arrest. Lovett said she had never been in trouble before and did not want to go to jail. Authorities learned that Lovett had been arrested in 2005 for shoplifting with her two children in Niceville, Fla.

Lovett told authorities she had seen Boswell scratching tickets, but he paid for them and the ones he took to Pensacola, the report said. When the deputy asked her why the store is always short and why owes the Florida Lottery $47,100, Lovett did not have an answer.

When Lovett learned the vending machine was nearly $15,000 short, she said, "Yes, I don't know how that happened." Lovett went on to answer questions about her possession of keys to the vending machine and she answered, "Yes, we have to pull the cash out everyday."

The deputy told Lovett that all the evidence in this case shows that employees at this store are stealing and since the only employees are Boswell and Lovett who claim to be husband and wife, live under the same roof as husband and wife, they are the suspects in the case, the report indicated.

Lovett told authorities she saw Boswell scratching tickets at the store but he told her he paid for them. Lovett indicated that Boswell brought tickets home to scratch often, sometimes 10 or 15 at a time, but he told her he paid for them.

Lovett told authorities that Boswell paid for all of the couple's bills.

When authorities viewed the ADT surveillance tapes, footage from Nov. 2017 showed Lovett and her teenage daughter, Christina, scratching lottery tickets at the store, the report said. Footage showed Boswell placing cash from his wallet into the register after pulling scratch-off tickets from the dispenser. Boswell then turns his back to the camera standing at a strange angle to hide transactions from surveillance. When Boswell throws away tickets in the garbage, he would always make a point to shove the tickets to the bottom of the trash can and pull old garbage on the top, according to the report.

On the footage, from Nov., 2017, Christina began asking for tickets to scratch. The total number of tickets scratched off by Boswell, Lovett and Christina was unknown at the time the footage was viewed.

The report said that any time a customer would walk in, Christina would hide her tickets and walk into the back office, basically knowing that she was not to be playing lottery in the open, according to the report. The footage showed at times Lovett would walk to the very back corner to organize the cash in her pockets, as to not be caught on camera, although deputies could still see that she was counting cash.

Boswell and Lovett were arrested Dec. 22, 2017, and each charged with one count felony I stolen property and one count felony I fraud or swindle to obtain property $50,000 or more and transported to Santa Rosa County Jail and given a bond of $50,000 each.


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