Mass lottery

READING - A Reading man allegedly participated in a lottery money laundering ring that involved individuals falsely claiming to have won cash prizes in order to shield the true ticket owners from tax liabilities.

Earlier this week, Attorney General Maura Healey announced that 48-year-old Reading resident Parish Patel is being charged with conspiracy to evade taxes as a result of a recent indictment returned by a statewide grand jury.

It’s unclear of what Patel’s role was in the alleged money laundering ring, but according to authorities, the town resident was one of a dozen individuals who perpetuated the winning lottery ticket scam across multiple communities in the state.

“The AG’s office alleges that from April 2020 through May 2021, the defendants, who are ticket-cashers, store owners or employees, purchased winning lottery tickets from the true winners for cash, at a discount to the value of the tickets,” said Healey in a prepared statement released on Tuesday.

“By taking these types of necessary actions to prevent crimes, we are maintaining the integrity of the Lottery and the best interests of the people of the Commonwealth,” said Treasurer Deborah B. Goldberg, Chair of the Massachusetts State Lottery Commission. “I am thankful for the Lottery team, the Attorney General’s Office, and the Massachusetts State Police for their diligent and effective work on this case.”

Though not specifying the Reading man’s role in the alleged money laundering operation, Healey and other investigators say that numerous convenience store owners and employees funneled winning lottery tickets to three ring masterminds.

In a scheme reportedly known as “ten-percenting”, those winning lottery tickets would then be handed to “runners”, who would fill out claim forms to obtain cash prizes and help the true winners avoid higher tax liabilities.

“’[T]en-percenting’ is a practice where individuals claim winning lottery tickets and retain a percentage of the winnings, sometimes as high as 10 or 20 percent of the proceeds as fee from the true winner,” the attorney general’s office explained on Tuesday.

“The ‘ten-percenting’ scheme is designed to defeat government collection of back taxes through the Department of Revenue (DOR) Intercept Program. The DOR program is an automated process used to intercept and collect Massachusetts State Lottery Commission winning payouts, over $600, to satisfy delinquent debt. Massachusetts law prohibits the unlawful assignment of winning lottery tickets,” authorities added in Tuesday’s announcement.

The lottery winnings scam apparently involved stores situated in Chelsea, Medford, Boston, Malden, Nahant and North Reading, and at least two men, including 29-year-old Revere resident Adam Derebala and 52-year-old Boston resident Peter Marano, are accused of partaking in the criminal conspiracy by trying to evade taxes on ticket winnings.

Authorities have identified the North Reading convenience store as the Richdale’s location at 4 Lowell Rd.

The three alleged masterminds of the scam have been identified by the attorney general as 69-year-old Revere resident Kenneth Grossman, 67-year-old Revere resident William McNamara, and 80-year-old Lynn resident Frank Obey.

All three men have been indicted for conspiracy to evade taxes, attempting to impede/obstruct administration of Mass. tax laws, and money laundering.

McNamara and Obey are also facing charges for allegedly lying to authorities during the course of the investigation.

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