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Man accused of embezzling to play lottery

A businessman is accused of embezzling half-a-million dollars to support a $5,000-a-week lottery habit.

Richard T. Clary of Fruit Cove was being held in the Clay County Jail Friday in lieu of $100,000 bond after being charged with grand theft for allegedly stealing money a from GLF Inc., an Orange Park contracting company.

Clary will be arraigned Nov. 17.

The thefts reportedly occurred over the past three years from GLF, where Clary had worked for 14 years in various jobs, including secretary and treasurer, Assistant State Attorney Timothy Collins said Friday.

Investigators determined he spent as much as $5,000 a week playing the lottery, but Collins said he apparently won only about $2,500, which he reinvested in more tickets.

Ed George, a Tallahassee spokesman for the Florida Lottery, said that lottery records show no big payouts to Clary. All payouts of $600 or more are recorded.

The owner of GLF, Gary L. Furnish, contacted the State Attorney's Office on Sept. 20 and accused Clary of embezzling $300,000 in cash from several business accounts, according to the arrest warrant.

Further audits by an accountant revealed the possible embezzlement of as much as $500,000 from various corporate accounts.

Clary, accompanied by his attorney, Robert Shafer, surrendered Thursday at the county jail in Green Cove Springs.

George said the lottery is a very popular form of entertainment in Florida with 87 percent of Floridians playing it.

"You are going to have some people who abuse it," George said.