An Iowa convenience store manager was fired after he allegedly purchased a Powerball ticket that he knew in advance was worth $100,000, according to state records.
Aaron D. McVicker of Dubuque was employed as a manager at a Casey’s General Store in eastern Iowa last fall when he was fired by the retailer, according to Iowa unemployment records.
At a recent hearing dealing with McVicker’s request for unemployment benefits, company representatives testified that McVicker had called Casey’s human resources manager Melissa Klenzman early last November and reported that he and seven of his coworkers had won $100,000 in a Powerball lottery drawing using a ticket purchased at the store he managed.
Klenzman asked McVicker several questions about the purchase to determine whether it was made in accordance with store policies that restrict the manner in which employees can buy lottery tickets. McVicker allegedly reported that he was not working when he purchased the ticket, did not sell it to himself, and did not run the cash register or the lottery machine to complete the sale.
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He reportedly said he bought the ticket the evening of Nov. 7, but Klenzman later concluded that while McVicker did not clock in for work on Nov. 7, he had been working that day and was on duty at the time he claimed the ticket was purchased.
Klenzman spoke to McVicker on the phone again, at which point he allegedly mentioned that he sometimes purchased “mistake tickets,” which are lottery tickets printed out for customers but then set aside due to some sort of error that was made in completing the transaction.
Klenzman spoke to McVicker on two more occasions, with McVicker allegedly altering his explanation of events and saying the ticket was purchased a day later than he had previously stated. According to testimony from Casey’s officials, McVicker also reported, for the first time, that the winning ticket was a “mistake ticket” and hadn’t been purchased in the traditional manner.
After reviewing security-video footage, store receipts, and collecting information from the Iowa Lottery, Casey’s determined the winning ticket had been printed out the evening of Nov. 7 and treated as a “mistake ticket” before being set aside. On Nov. 8, a store employee scanned the ticket and discovered it was a $100,000 winning ticket. The worker allegedly called McVicker, who reportedly came to the store and purchased the ticket.
Casey’s fired McVicker, alleging he had been untruthful during the investigation and that he had violated company policy.
Administrative Law Judge Stephanie Adkisson recently denied McVicker’s request for unemployment benefits, ruling that “not only did he lie to employer multiple times during the investigation, but he also purchased the ticket only after confirming it was a winning ticket. As a store manager, (he) was held to a higher standard than other employees.”
McVicker could not be reached for comment.
Mary Neubauer of the Iowa Lottery said Tuesday that a $100,000 winning Powerball ticket was purchased at the Casey’s General Store located at 5505 Asbury Road in Dubuque for the Nov. 7, 2022, drawing. That prize remains unclaimed, and the ticket has not been presented to the Iowa Lottery for payment.
Neubauer said a longstanding security requirement of multi-jurisdictional games such as Powerball is that tickets cannot be canceled. If a ticket is printed in error at a retail location, the business involved can still sell the ticket. If the lottery retailer doesn’t sell the ticket in time for the drawing, the ticket remains the property of the business where it was generated.
“There have been instances through the years where a retail location has claimed a prize from a ticket it owned after printing it in error,” Neubauer said.
Store clerks charged in other lottery cases
McVicker is not the only store clerk to be accused of using their position to gain an advantage in the Iowa Lottery. Court records show some of those cases have resulted in criminal prosecutions:
Last year, another Casey’s employee, Danielle Fenton of Burlington, was convicted of fraud, coercion or tampering in connection with the lottery. She was given a five-year, suspended prison sentence and placed on probation for five years.
Police alleged that while working at the Casey’s store in Middletown, Fenton concocted an elaborate process through which she stole new lottery tickets and attempted to replace them with other tickets that were already scanned and determined not to be winning tickets.
Also last year, a Hy-Vee worker, Kristy Megan Shaver of Urbandale, was convicted of first-degree theft and sentenced to three years of probation. She was accused of stealing 1,721 lottery tickets and was alleged to have cashed them in for prize payouts totaling $10,250.
In 2020, Casey’s employee Arlondo Quinn of Des Moines was convicted of theft and placed on one year’s probation. He was accused of stealing $300 worth of Iowa Lottery tickets from the store where he worked, and then redeeming some of the stolen tickets for prize winnings.
Also in 2020, Shalynn Lincoln of Wapello, a clerk at the Fast Break store in Mediapolis, was convicted of lottery theft and sentenced to five years of probation. Lincoln had allegedly taken scratch tickets from the store’s supply, then redeemed the winning tickets to extract cash from the register, at which point she paid for some, but not all, of the tickets she had procured for herself.
That same year, Ryan Kingsbury of Pella was charged with stealing $1,800 worth of lottery tickets from a Casey’s store in Pella, and then redeeming the winning tickets for $1,165 in prizes. Kingsbury was convicted of lottery theft and sentenced to two years’ probation.