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EDITORIAL | Passailaigue is gift that keeps giving

There is something quite breathtaking in the extent of the crimes to which the former deputy director of security for the Arkansas Lottery Commission pleaded guilty Friday.

Remmele Mazyck, who held his position from July 2009 until November 2012, came west with Ernie Passailaigue when he moved to Arkansas to direct the start-up effort. Mr. Mazyck had been the deputy director of security for Mr. Passailaigue when he directed the South Carolina Lottery.

Mr. Mazyck pleaded guilty Friday to federal charges of wire fraud and money laundering, according to an Arkansas News Bureau report in Saturday’s edition. Specifically, he admitted to cashing 22,171 lottery tickets for a total of $478,073 between November 2009 and October 2012.

So put a quick pencil to it. Mr. Mazyck redeemed on average around 20 lottery tickets a day, for less than $22 each. And he managed to pull that off for very nearly three years, accumulating almost half a million dollars. We can’t imagine when he was in his office.

How did he do it?

Well, remember that he was the deputy director for security. Current Lottery Director Bishop Woosley said Mr. Mazyck was hired to create and implement the new lottery’s security procedures.

The tickets he cashed in were scratch-off tickets intended as give-aways at promotional events. Writing to Lottery Commission employees Friday, Mr. Woosley described the situation this way: “The weakness (in the security system) allowed Mazyck unfettered access to the tickets which he obtained at the instant ticket warehouse, either in conjunction with an ALC event or under false pretense, activated using his user ID, then cashed at an ALC retailer.”

He got caught when a retailer reported an individual trying to cash a ticket that had not been activated.

Mr. Woosley closed the barn door on Oct. 20 by ending the practice of giving away tickets at ALC events.

The commission, according to Mr. Woosley, is fully insured for the amount of the theft through the Arkansas Fidelity Bond Trust Fund and a supplemental policy. Assuming the claims are approved under both policies, the commission will sustain no loss. No retailers sustained losses, either, according to lottery officials cited in the Arkansas News Bureau report.

That is perhaps some consolation, but if you’ve ever made a claim on an insurance policy you know there are always consequences from a claim.

In the meantime, Mr. Mazyck is free on his own recognizance. He faces up to 20 years in prison and a fine of up to $250,000 on the wire fraud conviction and up to 10 years and a $250,000 fine on the money laundering conviction. His sentencing date has not been set.

Perhaps the lesson is this: Even if you have 22,000 tickets, you still aren’t going to get rich.

Or perhaps it’s this: Ernie Passailaigue is the gift that keeps on giving.

— Pine Bluff Commercial

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