Prolific lottery winner connected to operation suspending lottery sales
Updated On: Apr 04 2014 02:41:52 PM EDT
Louis Tillman Johnson pulled up to a modest Pompano Beach home in an older model pickup truck with scratch-off tickets in hand.
Neighbors told WPLG-TV you can find Johnson under an awning adjacent to the home nearly every morning playing the Florida Lottery.
Johnson has the kind of winning streak that raises eyebrows, cashing in more winning tickets than anyone else, Florida Lottery officials said -- about 252 wins over 196 different dates at 69 different stores from Vero Beach to North Lauderdale.
Records show Johnson has raked in more than $700,000 since he first started winning in October 2007.
Johnson did especially well at the Akel Market -- just over a mile from his place in Pompano Beach.
Florida Lottery spokesman David Bishop provided WPLG with Akel Market's staggering list of winning lottery tickets worth $600 or more. The sheer number of big money wins at one store is a red flag for lottery investigators, who comb data for irregular and suspicious activity.
On that list, which dates back to 2012, one name dominates: Louis Tillman Johnson. At certain times of the year, Johnson was redeeming a winning ticket nearly every two weeks.
Now that's lucky, perhaps too lucky.
Akel Market, 502 NW Sixth St., is one of three Pompano Beach convenience stores from which lottery officials removed their equipment on Wednesday. They also temporarily suspended lottery sales.
The other two stores were the Kwik Stop Food Store, 617 Hammondville Road, and Georgia Market, 1404 NW Sixth Ave.
Florida Lottery officials would not detail how they believe store owners were gaming the system, due to the ongoing investigation that began last August. They said it involves "fraudulent activity" and that criminal charges are pending the outcome of their investigation.
"It is something serious enough for us to move on it," said Florida Lottery's Miami district manager, Tom Dolan. "Integrity is our lifeblood. When there is evidence something fraudulent is happening, we move on it and we move rapidly."
In general terms, Bishop said, an example of "fraudulent activity" includes someone having a winning ticket, trying to redeem it at the store, and the worker says it is not valid -- only to cash it himself.
Johnson told WPLG-TV to speak with his lawyer but did not provide a name. He did claim that everybody is "blaming" him.
For a second day, workers at Akel Market declined to speak with WPLG-TV.
Florida Lottery officials said all tickets sold at the three stores under investigation were valid.