Lottery winner accused of stealing $700
By Patrick McArdle
STAFF WRITER | December 29,2012
BENNINGTON — A Silver Street man who told the court he had won $50,000 in the lottery in July, but now has none of that money left, was ordered held without bail Friday after being charged with stealing $700 from a woman who agreed to give him a ride on Nov. 29.
Gregory A. Croff, 31, of Bennington, was arraigned in Bennington criminal court Friday on a felony count of larceny from a person. Croff pleaded innocent to the charge.
Croff was ordered held after also being arraigned for violation of the conditions of his probation. He was placed on probation after pleading guilty in February to aggravated assault with a deadly weapon.
A probation complaint filed in the case said Croff had tested positive for cocaine and marijuana use on Sept. 18, which is a violation of the conditions of his probation. He had been scheduled to be arraigned for the violation in October but failed to appear in court.
During Croff’s arraignment Friday, Frederick Bragdon, who represented Croff, told Judge Cortland Corsones that his client had won $50,000 from a lottery ticket but after giving $20,000 to his mother, now had none of the money left.
Croff told the judge he won the money in July.
Croff was arraigned on a new felony, which had similarities to the charge earlier this year, based on an affidavit written by Bennington Police Officer William DiNunzio.
According to the affidavit, DiNunzio met with a woman on Nov. 29 who wanted to report a theft.
In a written statement, the woman said she had seen Croff on Pleasant Street around 8 a.m. that morning. She said he asked for a ride to a restaurant on North Street and she agreed to take him.
In the parking lot, Croff asked her about her plans for the day. She told police that she told Croff she was going to buy a new car.
“My purse was on the center console. He grabbed it, took my wallet and opened the door, took $700 (all $100 bills) out, threw the wallet at me and ran,” she said.
The woman said she went to the home of Croff’s mother, who told her there was a warrant for his arrest in Vermont, so she went to the police station, she told DiNunzio. She said she has known Croff for years so she was sure he was the person who took her money.
The charges from February also involved someone who agreed to give Croff a ride. In that case, a cab driver told police he picked up Croff and another man in Troy, N.Y., around 3 a.m. on Jan. 30.
The man said his passengers told him they had no money but said they would pay him when they got to the Bennington area. The cab driver told police he took the men to North Bennington but first one, then the other, left the cab without paying.
When Croff left the cab, the cab driver said he began to argue with Croff about the fare but Croff pulled out a knife and threatened the driver, police said.
After Croff was taken into custody, he was interviewed. Detective Anthony Silvestro said Croff admitted he and another man had gone to Troy to buy drugs and that he had pulled out a knife during an argument with the cab driver.
Croff’s criminal history in Vermont includes several drug-related charges.
He is currently being held in the Rutland jail.