HOWARD LAKE, MN – Susan Lynn Spar, 52, of Howard Lake was arrested in Middleville Township April 22 on a Wright County warrant for a felony state lottery fraud charge after failing to appear at a summons, according to a formal complaint released from the Wright County Sheriff’s Office.
About 4:25 p.m. May 9, 2016, the sheriff’s office responded to a theft reported by Larry Miller, owner of Red’s Cafe in Montrose.
Miller stated that 19 Crossword Deluxe lottery tickets, numbered 004 through 023 and priced at $20 a piece, were missing. The cards were stored behind the counter in a locked drawer, and are estimated to have been taken between 11:30 a.m. and 10 p.m. three days earlier.
In realizing the tickets’ absence, Miller contacted the Minnesota State Lottery Office, and discovered that two winning tickets had already been redeemed.
A sheriff’s deputy viewed video surveillance of the theft May 11, which revealed employee Spar – identified by Miller and employee Jody Arnold – taking the lottery tickets out of the locked drawer.
Miller informed the deputy that employees are expected to complete an inventory check of the higher-priced lottery tickets at the end of their shifts.
Arnold stated that all tickets were accounted for at the end of her shift around 1:20 p.m. May 6.
The video then revealed that later that day, between 2:05 and 2:15 p.m., Spar was at and around the counter where the lottery tickets are stored and sold. The case was then assigned to a detective for further investigation.
Arnold informed the detective May 12 that Spar had not been to work the past two days, claiming to have a sick child at home.
After viewing the afore-mentioned surveillance video, the detective noted the following: around 2:11 p.m., Spar placed a trash liner inside a garbage container beneath the counter. At 2:12 p.m. Spar helped her daughter in purchasing a lottery ticket and removed an unknown number of tickets from the drawer. She then placed something into a bag hanging beneath the register.
At 2:13 p.m., Spar removed another unknown amount of lottery tickets from the drawer and placed them in the bus pan beneath the trash bag she had just placed earlier.
Spar then carried the bus pan away from the counter, where a document was clearly visible underneath the trash bag in the bus pan.
The detective later learned on May 16 that five of the 20 missing lottery tickets had been redeemed at several locations between May 7 and May 10.
A surveillance video from Casey’s General Store in Montrose showed two females cashing in a lottery ticket around 10:19 p.m. May 7. Spar appeared to be one of the women.
Another video, taken from Holiday in Maple Plain, showed an unidentified white male cashing in a lottery ticket in question.
Requested video of the other cash outs were unsuccessful due to the length of time since their occurrence.
The detective visited Spar at her residence May 19 in an unsuccessful attempt to speak with her about the incident.
Further attempts were made by phone and visitation May 23. Spar later contacted the detective May 26, stating she would call him back to schedule a time to meet him. After numerous failed additional attempts, however, Spar had not contacted the detective since July 19, 2016.
If found guilty, the maximum sentence for the lottery fraud charge is 10 years in prison, a fine of $50,000, or both.
Susan Lynn Spar