Store owner pleads to misdemeanor after lottery scam

LISBON – The East Liverpool business owner accused in a $10,000 Ohio Lottery scam pleaded guilty in Columbiana County Common Pleas Court Tuesday to a first-misdemeanor attempted theft charge.

Saleh Fahmawi, 28, of Austintown, agreed as part of a plea agreement to cooperate with the prosecutor’s office in other cases involving the scam.

Fahmawi’s brother, Ashraf M. Fahmawi, 27, Tippecanoe Road, Canfield, pleaded guilty to theft last Wednesday. A woman, Rouz Elkady, is charged with receiving stolen property and complicity to theft, and her case remains unresolved.

Both brothers had been originally charged with theft, telecommunications fraud and receiving stolen property, all felony charges.

Saleh Fahmawi’s attorney, Rhys Cartwright-Jones, pointed out while immigration laws change all the time, the misdemeanor his client pleaded to would help mitigate any possibility of his deportation.

Assistant County Prosecutor Ryan Weikart said he plans to recommend a 180-day sentence for Fahmawi, with 170 days suspended, provided he continues to cooperate. Sentencing was set for Nov. 25 after Ashraf Fahawi’s sentencing. Weikart will recommend both brothers be prohibited from selling lottery tickets or operating a lottery terminal in the future.

Court documents allege Ashraf Fahmawi, a clerk at the Lisbon Street Market, Lisbon Street, East Liverpool, and his brother, Saleh Fahmawi, the owner and operator of the store, were presented with a winning lottery ticket by an undercover investigator on Aug. 23, 2012.

The brothers validated the ticket using an Ohio Lottery terminal, printed a file claim ticket and told the undercover investigator he won only $25. The ticket was a $10,000 winner. The $25 was paid in cash to the agent.

Then Saleh’s girlfriend, Elkady, reportedly filed a claim for the $10,000 at the Ohio Lottery Commission office in Youngstown on Sept. 7.

The case against Elkady, 25, of Austintown, is set for a status conference in early November.