“This was a crime that victimized more than just the California lottery. It hurt players, schools and merchants who all benefit when lottery tickets are purchased. It also took away the chances for honest, paying lottery players to win. Our appreciation to California State Lottery investigators and their local law enforcement partners.” – CSLEA President Alan Barcelona
MARTINEZ– On August 18, 2023, the Contra Costa District Attorney’s Office and officials with the California State Lottery announced that Ryan Anderson, 32, of Antioch, plead guilty to nine felony charges as the ringleader of a sophisticated organized retail theft ring.
Anderson was the mastermind behind a group responsible for committing more than 100 organized retail crime thefts from stores authorized to sell California Lottery Scratchers and redeem winning Scratcher tickets for prize money. Anderson, and others associated with him, targeted convenience and grocery stores throughout the counties of Contra Costa, Alameda, Marin, Sacramento, San Joaquin, Solano, and Stanislaus.
“Organized retail crime is a serious crime that will not be tolerated in our communities,” said District Attorney Diana Becton. “We will continue to work with our retailers and all of our state and local justice partners to hold these offenders accountable with arrest, prosecution, conviction, incarceration, and full restitution.”
By early 2022, California State Lottery investigators, working with multiple law enforcement agencies and Contra Costa County DA’s Major Financial Crimes division, identified Anderson as the ringleader of a group responsible for 71 separate thefts of lottery tickets valued at a total of $95,565.00 and an additional $59,105.00 in prize money stolen from 65 retail locations across seven Northern California counties between March 27th, 2022, and October 25, 2022. The retail crime spree stopped when Contra Costa prosecutors were able to keep Anderson in custody.
Under state laws, the Contra Costa County District Attorney’s Office was able to prosecute Anderson for all his crimes, even though they occurred in multiple counties. State laws allow a single county to prosecute offenses if a crime, or the effects of a crime, crosses county lines.
During a court hearing in Martinez, the California State Lottery made a victim impact statement noting that “tens of thousands of dollars” Anderson and others stole victimized not only the California State Lottery but also its retail partners, many of which are “small, independently owned businesses that rely on the sale of Lottery games to thrive.” Moreover, lottery players were victims who lost out on the opportunity to win, and “public school students who have been robbed of additional funds to support important programs and enriching learning environments.”
The terms of the plea mean that Anderson will spend three years in state prison, admit probation violations, and pay full restitution to the California State Lottery. In court, Anderson presented a letter of apology to the victims of the crimes he committed saying, in part, that he wants to make an “honest living” so he will be able to “pay back any money [that] is owed.”
The lengthy investigation into these crimes was conducted in partnerships between the Contra Costa District Attorney’s Office, the Contra Costa Probation Department, the Security/Law Enforcement Division of the California State Lottery, and the collaborative efforts of dozens of local law enforcement agencies.