The Joplin Globe, Joplin, MO

Local News

October 1, 2009

Convicted embezzler to forfeit state lottery prize

By Jeff Lehr

jlehr@joplinglobe.com

GIRARD, Kan. — Paul W. Lyle learned that he won the grand prize in a Kansas Lottery second-chance drawing at his preliminary hearing 11 days ago.

Trouble was: The former radio executive was facing a charge of felony theft for embezzling a reported $87,750 from his employer, American Media Investments, which owns three radio stations in Pittsburg, five in Joplin, Mo., and five more in Texas.

The supreme irony: Lyle, 63, the company’s chief operating officer until the theft was discovered in May, confessed that he stole the money to feed an out-of-control addiction to scratch-off state lottery tickets.

Crawford County Sheriff Sandy Horton said investigators discovered $30,457 worth of losing scratch-off tickets in a drawer of Lyle’s desk in his office at KKOW radio station near Pittsburg.

Lyle was charged with the offense July 21.

But then his name popped out of the hopper Sept. 20 at the Kansas State Fair in Hutchinson in a “second-chance drawing” for purchasers of losing scratch-off tickets. The drawing, billed as “Cruisin’ and Cash,” featured a grand prize package of a 2009 Cobra 230 boat and trailer, boating accessories, about $2,000 in cash, and tickets to NASCAR’s racing event this weekend at the Kansas Speedway.

Estimated value of the total package: $96,000.

The irony did not escape the defendant, who learned of his good fortune when state lottery officials contacted the Crawford County Sheriff’s Department the next day in an effort to locate Lyle and word was passed on to the courthouse, where his preliminary hearing was in progress.

“It’s like being struck twice by lightning, one of which kills you, the second of which revives you,” Lyle told the Globe in a telephone interview.

Restitution

Lyle pleaded guilty Thursday in an agreement with the Crawford County attorney’s office that will prevent him from catching the race this weekend at the Kansas Speedway. Or ever taking a cruise in the Cobra 230.

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