A lottery claims clerk pleaded guilty yesterday to stealing two winning Pick Four tickets worth $7,500 and giving them to her boyfriend to cash.
Carolyn L. Cooks, 44, of the 4700 block of Loch Raven Boulevard entered the plea in Baltimore Circuit Court. Sentencing was set for Dec. 10, according to the state attorney general's office.
The tickets were bought in Prince George's County in the fall of 1989 and mailed to Baltimore for redemption. Cooks stole them, gave them to her boyfriend and later approved them for payment to two other members of the scheme, according to a prosecution statement of facts.
The scheme was discovered after the winners complained of not receiving their prizes, said Carroll H. Hynson Jr., a lottery spokesman. They were eventually paid.
"There's no reason to think it's not safe to get your winnings through the mail," Mr. Hynson said.
Prizes of $600 or more must be redeemed at the Baltimore claims center or by mail. Winners who redeem by mail file the ticket with a lottery claim form, retaining a copy as proof.
Cooks' boyfriend, Eric Williams, 26, of the 4800 block of Gilray Drive, pleaded guilty Aug. 11. He was sentenced to five years in prison, with three years suspended, and required to pay back the $7,500.
The state will seek the same penalty against Cooks, said Carolyn H. Henneman, an assistant attorney general.
The lottery agency is moving to fire Cooks, who has been suspended without pay, Mr. Hynson said.
Lenora C. Stanley, 31, of the first block of Salem Court in Pikesville pleaded guilty yesterday to cashing a $5,000 ticket in the scheme. She received a one-year suspended sentence and was ordered to make $350 restitution and perform 150 hours of community service.
The $5,000 ticket had the real winner's name and address on the back, but Williams glued a blank ticket to it and Stanley wrote in her name. Cooks approved it for payment, according to the statement of facts.
A fourth defendant, Maurice Taylor, 31, of the 1400 block of Kenhill Avenue in Baltimore, allegedly cashed a $2,500 ticket using false identification. Cooks approved the ticket for payment. Mr. Taylor is a fugitive, Ms. Henneman said.