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Blind Vendor's Future in Limbo After Lottery Theft

8 February 2002

ALBANY, New York – Feb. 8, 2002 – As reported by the Associated Press: "For the past decade, Jim Welch has been a fixture for state workers who stroll to his newsstand on breaks and buy a candy bar, a pack of cigarettes or, more likely, a lottery ticket.

"Now, the legally blind owner of Jim's Place, in a state office building near the Capitol, is walking a financial tightrope after the theft of thousands of dollars worth of lottery tickets.

"Welch can't sell lottery tickets -- which make up half of his revenue -- until he pays the New York State Lottery Division the $13,500 his business owes.

"…In 2001, Welch said total sales at his booth from instant scratch-off games and online betting totaled $640,000, an amount that earned him $38,400 in commission -- six cents for every dollar.

"Welch's employee, Richard Kafer, 30, of Rensselaer, has been charged with stealing 27 books of lottery tickets valued at $500 each since last October. Kafer mostly took $10 scratch-off tickets, the most expensive variety, according to State Police Investigator Bruce MacWatters. Kafer is charged with felony third-degree grand larceny and remains in jail.

"A second employee, Keith Cable, 31, of Clifton Park, was charged Monday with petit larceny, a misdemeanor, in connection with the theft.

"…Welch had been on probation with the lottery department since last year after a weekly check showed the amount of money in his account didn't match the number of tickets he sold. Welch said the discrepancy was probably caused by a delay in making a deposit and does not believe it had anything to do with the theft.

"Following the theft, lottery officials last week followed standard procedure and turned off his terminal pending an investigation, according to lottery spokeswoman Carolyn Hapeman.

"…While the investigation continues, Welch said he has had to take out a personal loan, cash in life insurance and may have to dip into his two children's trust fund to pay back the lottery division…"

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