According to Sioux County Attorney Coleman McCalister’s office, in late November of 2010, the Casey’s General Store in Orange City discovered that 15 lottery scratch-off tickets were missing from their store and contacted the Orange City Police Department. The Police Department contacted the Iowa lottery, which determined that several of the missing scratch-off lottery tickets (the winners) had been redeemed at Dutch Mart in Orange City on December 8, 2010. Using the surveillance video from Dutch Mart, the investigating officer made contact with the person who redeemed the tickets. That person informed the officer that he had received the winning lottery tickets from 26-year-old Nathan Leigh Stienstra of Orange City as payment for a debt. Further investigation revealed that Stienstra was an employee at Casey’s General Store at the time of the theft and that he stole the lottery tickets from the store’s safe.
In September of 2011, Stienstra was sentenced to five years in prison on the forgery of lottery ticket count, which was suspended, and he was placed on probation for two years. For the theft count, Stienstra was sentenced to thirty days in jail with credit for twelve days. The sentences were to run concurrently.
Stienstra appealed. He argued the lower court handed down an illegal sentence because they didn’t merge the two counts — one of felony forgery and one of misdemeanor theft.
In their opinion handed down this past week, the appeals court said that because he committed two separate acts, the two sentences were appropriate. He also asserted at both his district court trial and the appeals trial, that the penal consequences for stealing a lottery ticket are more severe than for stealing an equivalent amount of cash. The court ruled that was appropriate. The district court said, “Those that cheat or steal from the public lottery system attack its integrity so the legislature reasonably chose to make such violators subject to more serious penal consequences than if the person committed an ordinary theft.” The high court agreed.