In a recent undercover law enforcement investigation, two area store clerks were arrested for mishandling Florida Lotto tickets including one who was working at TLC Food Mart in Gulfport.
Pinellas County jail and court records show Michail Papargyriou of St. Petersburg and Adel Mosaad of Palm Harbor were arrested on charges of grand theft on December 11. Both bonded out on $2,000 bail. Mosaad worked at Sam’s Sunoco, 1517 Central Ave., St. Petersburg while Papargyriou was employed at TLC, 2822 Beach Blvd.
Special agents with the Florida Department of Lottery in the Division of Security are certified law enforcement officers in the state, said Special Agent Reggie Dudley on the Lottery website.
The division “works to counter the threat of potential retailer integrity issues,” said Ron Cave, director, in the Lottery’s annual report.
According to the report, “A Retailer Integrity Program involves Lottery staff visiting and testing Lottery retailers using winning Lottery tickets to ensure the retailers are properly paying prizes to players and are compliant with retailer rules and procedures. In these “sting” operations, retailers are selected for visits both at random and based upon complaints from players. In rare occasions when tickets were not correctly processed for payment and an attempt was made to steal a player’s winnings, store personnel have been arrested and retailers’ contracts have been suspended and/or terminated.”
Court affidavits show that during the investigative visit to both business locations, a Lottery special agent was wearing a video and audio recording device while presenting a known winning scratch-off ticket to the clerks.
In the Papargyriou case, he “scanned the ticket into the Florida Lottery system” and a “ticket was created verifying to the clerk the ticket was a winning ticket” worth “above $599. The clerk advised the undercover agent that she was not a winner. She repeatedly asked the clerk if she was a winner, the clerk repeatedly said no,” according to the court record.
In the Mosaad case, the agent presented him with ticket worth $300 or more, court records show. He “scanned the ticket, which generated a player claim instruction ticket. Mr. Mossad paid the undercover agent $5 for the ticket. The undercover agent repeatedly asked the clerk if the ticket was a $5 winner. He stated yes and requested or encouraged the undercover agent to buy a drink and chips with his $5.”
In a WFLA video news report published on their website on December 12, a clerk at Sam’s Sunoco confirmed that Mosaad was fired as a result of the investigation. The business is still a Florida Lottery vendor.
In a telephone interview with the Gabber on Monday, December 18, Claire Papargyriou, wife of TLC Food Mart owner Taso Papargyriou, confirmed their business “doesn’t do lottery anymore.”
In response to a request for more information, she said, “You can talk to the lawyer that’s up against the lottery company.”
Maria Pavlidis of McCarty, Gonzales, Pavidis & Whidden in Tampa was the lawyer identified by Claire Papargyriou. Pavlidis’ legal firm would not provide a statement to the press or confirm the owner of TLC Food Mart has retained her or her firm.
Claire Papargyriou said, “We’ve been dealing with the Lottery for 25 years. It’s a shame what has happened.” She confirmed that Michail Papargyriou is her brother-in-law and that he’s been working at TLC for over 10 years.
Anyone who has any questions about how a Lotto ticket sale has been handled can call the Florida Lotto Division of Security at any time and on any day 850-487-7752.