The Oak Island Police Department, working with security officials from the N.C. Education Lottery, has arrested the husband of a $1 million lottery claimant, charging he obtained the winning ticket illegally.
The husband, Sean Mewherter of Wilmington, was charged Wednesday with larceny by employee and possession of stolen goods over $100,000.
The charges result from an investigation into the award of a $1 million prize to Mewherter’s wife, Mikala Fields of Wilmington. The prize was awarded to Fields on Monday, July 2, after she presented a winning 20X The Money ticket to lottery officials at NCEL headquarters.
Following the announcement of the award, the NCEL was contacted by Mewherter’s employer, Kangaroo Express, and an additional investigation began into how Fields obtained the winning ticket. The investigation led to the charges, brought on behalf of the NCEL, that Mewherter illegally obtained the ticket while he was working at the Kangaroo Express on Yaupon Drive in Oak Island. The investigation is continuing but as of Wednesday no charges have been filed against Fields.
“We are determined to take all steps possible to ensure that the security and integrity of the lottery and its games will not be compromised,” said Alice Garland, executive director of the N.C. Education Lottery. “We appreciate the vigilance of our partner, Kangaroo Express, in monitoring the sale of lottery tickets.”
The Education Lottery also is seeking the recovery of the prize money paid to Fields. Top prize winners in the 20X The Money game have the option of claiming their prize as a 20-year annuity, or as a lump sum. Fields chose the $600,000 lump sum and received a check for $408,003 after taxes were withheld.
“A lot of safeguards are in place to ensure lottery prizes are honestly won,” Garland said. “In this case, lottery players didn’t get the chance they should have had to win that prize. So when the money is recovered it will be used as prize money in a future instant game.”