2 charged with lottery fraud

Published 9:16 am Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Two area men have been charged in Freeborn County District Court with state lottery fraud after they allegedly redeemed more than 50 stolen lottery tickets at various gas stations and a grocery store in the Albert Lea area.

Peter Jay Engen, 32, of Wells, and Justin Leroy Rickert, 34, of Albert Lea, each face one felony count of state lottery fraud for allegedly claiming lottery prizes by means of “fraud, deceit or misrepresentation” sometime between Dec. 25 and Dec. 27, according to court records.

Records state the investigation into the two men began after deputies with the Waseca County Sheriff’s Office were looking into a burglary of Dave’s Grocery Store in Waldorf on Dec. 25. During the investigation, they found out multiple lottery tickets had been stolen.

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Authorities obtained a list of all of the lottery tickets at the store at the time of the burglary, along with all of the places where the stolen tickets had been redeemed.

The places included the following:

• Petrol Pumper, Alden, on Dec. 25

• Loves Travel, Albert Lea, on Dec. 25

• Kwik Trip on Front Street, Albert Lea, on Dec. 25

• Nelson’s Market Place, Albert Lea, on Dec. 26

• Shell Food Mart, Albert Lea, on Dec. 26

• Kwik Trip on Garfield Avenue, Albert Lea, on Dec. 26

• Hy-Vee Gas, Albert Lea on Dec. 27

Court documents state at each of these locations, a person was captured on video or in a still photo redeeming the lottery tickets.

An Albert Lea police lieutenant identified one of the men as Engen because of a tattoo of a bomb that was on his hand.

Rickert was also reportedly identified from the store surveillance.

According to court records, Rickert freely admitted during an interview with authorities that he had redeemed several lottery tickets in the Albert Lea area, stating that he had received the tickets from Engen.

Court documents state Rickert told police that Engen had borrowed some money to buy the tickets.

Rickert allegedly denied being involved in the burglary of Dave’s Grocery Store but when told that investigators had photos of him during the burglary, he reportedly ended the interview and asked to speak to a lawyer, court documents state.

Video surveillance and still photos from the various stores indicate Rickert allegedly redeemed stolen lottery tickets at all of the locations except Nelson’s Market Place.

Engen was allegedly seen in a photo from Nelson’s Market Place redeeming four tickets.

In total, 54 tickets were redeemed.

Engen was slated to appear in Freeborn County District Court on Monday. He requested a public defender.

Rickert is slated to appear for his first appearance on the charges on June 1.

State lottery fraud carries a maximum penalty of 10 years in prison and a $50,000 fine.