LITTLE ROCK (AP) — The Arkansas lottery's first big winner in a scratch-off game is facing a felony charge after allegedly soliciting an undercover police officer for sex in a public park, authorities said Wednesday.
Joseph K. Pierce, 34, of Van Buren won the $100,000 prize from a $5 scratch-off ticket Sunday. When he claimed his prize Tuesday, he told reporters he planned to use the money on a house, a car and on his wife and children — a 13-year-old and a daughter born last week.
But later that day, he turned himself into Sebastian County jailers to begin serving a 10-day sentence stemming from his Aug. 22 arrest.
A Fort Smith police report claims Pierce approached a male undercover officer on a walking trail along the Clayton Expressway.
Pierce "approached an undercover detective and agreed to allow the detective to perform oral sex on him," the police report reads. "Pierce exposed himself to the detective during this encounter."
The officer arrested Pierce and said he found three morphine or methadone pills concealed inside a flashlight on Pierce's keyring.
Pierce later entered into a plea deal over the misdemeanor charges stemming from his arrest, pleading guilty and receiving a 10-day sentence. A judge also banned Pierce from public parks in the western Arkansas city.
Pierce was scheduled to appeared in Sebastian County Circuit Court to answer to a felony drug charge Wednesday morning. A telephone number registered in his name rang unanswered Wednesday and court clerks were not immediately available for comment.
The Times Record newspaper of Fort Smith first reported about Pierce's arrest Wednesday.
Pierce said he bought his winning $100,000 Cash Bonanza ticket while on break at the Pointer Express 2 convenience store in Van Buren. That game has three $100,000 prizes, with the odds of winning the top payout at one in 880,000.
It appears Pierce will get to keep his winnings, despite the criminal charges. Rules governing the state law bar those currently incarcerated in state prison or local jails from collecting their winnings. However, Pierce claimed his prize before reporting for his jail sentence.
A picture of Pierce smiling and holding a large ceremonial check next to lottery director Ernie Passailaigue still appeared Wednesday morning on the games' Web site. Passailaigue told The Associated Press that as long as Pierce was 18, he was "certainly eligible to buy lottery tickets and buy cigarettes and buy Coca-Cola and everything else in the world right now."
"Everybody in Arkansas is eligible to buy a lottery ticket," Passailaigue said. "Most people in Arkansas are good law-abiding citizens, but some people are not. So it is what it is."