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Lottery theft suspects don’t come up winners
Sept. 9, 2013
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Howard Lake pair accused of stealing lottery tickets from Montrose restaurant

By Ryan Gueningsman
Managing Editor

MONTROSE, HOWARD LAKE, MN – Two Howard Lake men didn’t come up winners after being charged with felony-level lottery fraud after allegedly stealing hundreds of dollars worth of lottery tickets from Red’s Café in Montrose in two separate incidents.

Matthew Duane Albrecht, 22, and Shawn Dean Albrecht, 25, both from Howard Lake, were arrested Aug. 22 for their involvement in two burglaries at the restaurant Aug. 16 and Aug. 22, according to the Wright County Sheriff’s Office.

The sheriff’s office responded to a report of a break-in at Red’s Café the morning of Aug. 17 after an employee of the restaurant noticed someone had forcibly entered the building by breaking the glass on the front door, according to a formal complaint.

The employee noted the only thing missing was the Minnesota State Lottery display case that had a large number of scratch-off tickets in various values, according to the complaint. Hundreds of dollars worth of lottery tickets were stolen. The Minnesota State Lottery was contacted and made aware of the stolen tickets.

While investigating the break-in, authorities located a cell phone lying against the exterior wall of the restaurant, which was taken into evidence.

On the morning of Aug. 22, Wright County authorities were again dispatched to the report of a break-in at Red’s Café in Montrose.

Business owner Larry Miller reported someone had again forcibly entered the restaurant and that the only items missing were three stacks of $20 scratch-off tickets that were kept behind the counter, according to the complaint. Shoe prints were also discovered at the scene and documented as evidence.

Later that day, the sheriff’s office received information that lottery tickets that had been stolen during the Aug. 16 burglary were redeemed at the Holiday Store in Delano, according to the complaint. A review of store surveillance footage showed two white males had cashed in the lottery tickets. A vehicle description was also obtained. Still images were made from the footage and sent to deputies on patrol in the area.

Information from a preliminary search of the cell phone found at Red’s Café showed the phone belonged to a person with the last name of Albrecht, according to the complaint.

A detective with Wright County compared a recent booking photo of Matthew Albrecht with the surveillance footage, and noted a close match, according to the complaint.

A deputy in the Howard Lake area checked Albrecht’s residence and located a vehicle matching the suspect vehicle from when the lottery tickets were cashed in. The deputy observed that vehicle parked in a handicapped parking spot at an apartment complex. When two men got into the vehicle and drove off, the deputy stopped the vehicle for the parking violation.

Matthew Albrecht was identified as the driver, and Shawn Albrecht was identified as the passenger, according to the complaint. Both men matched the physical description of the men linked to the lottery ticket thefts.

The deputy also observed Matthew Albrecht was wearing shoes that matched the description of prints recovered from Red’s Café, according to the complaint. At that time, both men were placed under arrest.

When authorities searched Matthew Albrecht, lottery tickets were found, and in a search of the vehicle, authorities located a hammer and several “batch ticket” documents given by the Minnesota State Lottery to vendors, according to the complaint.

In interviews with authorities, Matthew Albrecht admitted to being one of the people seen cashing the lottery tickets in Delano, according to the complaint. He claimed he found lottery tickets on two separate occasions – once near Coborn’s in Delano and once at a gas station in Maple Plain.

Shawn Albrecht also admitted to authorities being one of the people who cashed in tickets in Delano, and said he did not know where Matthew Albrecht got the tickets from and did not want to know, according to the complaint.

Shawn Albrecht told authorities he and Matthew Albrecht went into the Twin Cities area and stopped at more than a dozen convenience stores in order to redeem lottery tickets, according to the complaint.

Both men have been charged with one felony-level count of state lottery fraud-claim prize by fraud/deceit. If found guilty, this carries a maximum penalty of 10 years imprisonment and/or a $50,000 fine.

Matthew Albrecht was also charged with felony-level third-degree burglary for entering a building without consent. If found guilty, this charge carries a maximum penalty of five years imprisonment and/or a $10,000 fine.

Both men remained in custody at the Wright County Jail as of press time.

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