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Police Make Arrest In $50,000 Lottery Case

Posted at 7:36 AM, Dec 18, 2015

McMinnville police have arrested a woman accused of stealing an unsigned $50,000 lottery ticket and then cashing it in herself.

Imagine winning a $50,000 lottery jackpot only to see someone else cash it in? That's what happened to one mid-state man. 

Kimberly Milstead had the winning  ticket. She signed it, and went to the Tennessee Lottery Commission to collect, but surveillance video showed that she didn't purchase the ticket.

"This should have been me right here," said Jeff Smart pointing to the lottery photo. 

He is Milstead's ex-husband.

Smart said they stopped to buy some lottery tickets during a drive as friends in late October. One hit big, but he forgot to sign the back. Then the ticket disappeared and so did his ex.

"She literally stole a $50,000 lottery ticket from me. Left and did not come back and I've not seen her since," said Smart.

Smart reported the theft to McMinnville police. The state provided Detective Todd Rowland a copy of the signed ticket, which had Milstead's signature.

Yet when Rowland pulled the security video from the Sparta market where the ticket was sold, "The video from the store shows he was the purchaser, not her," said Rowland.

The video showed Smart put down a twenty for ten scratch off Jumbo Bucks tickets and then walk out.

Moments later, he came back with the freshly-scratched winning ticket with Milstead by his side.

"You can see the clerks are calling each other to look at the ticket. I never see her with the ticket at all it's always in his possession," said Rowland.  

Evidence enough to charge Milstead with felony theft. Smart would get justice.

If she is convicted, but that would be small consolation for a man recovering from neck surgery and had hoped to get back with his ex-wife. 

Police said Milstead has already spent all the money, but Smart said he would have shared.  

"I would have split it with her if she didn't want to be with me, but she got it all and left," said Smart.

NewsChannel 5 did speak to Milstead by phone. She said she gave Smart the money to buy the lottery ticket and that she did not steal it -- leaving it up to a judge and jury to decide.