On Tuesday, a retired man from Niagara Falls, Ontario, pleaded guilty to criminal charges stemming from an alleged scheme to claim the entire $7 million Lotto 6/49 lottery jackpot won with a ticket paid for by him and 10 other people. Specifically, he entered a plea admitting to two charges: theft over $5,000 and counselling his daughter to commit the criminal act of false pretenses, often referred to as fraud.According to the Toronto Sun, the 67-year-old belonged to an informal group that met regularly for meals and made ongoing group lottery ticket purchases, which the defendant coordinated. In July 2013, he purchased the winning ticket at issue in the charges as the group coordinator. When he learned that the ticket had won more than $7 million, he allegedly instructed his daughter to cash it in, telling his lottery group that she had won the jackpot.The daughter and her brother reportedly claimed the prize at a Toronto office of the Ontario Lottery and Gaming Corporation, known as OLG, saying that no one else had any right to the proceeds. Ultimately, the Ontario Provincial Police investigated the claim and the Crown determined that the group members were entitled to portions of the money.The defendant will be sentenced in September. Conviction for theft crimes in Canada may subject a defendant to significant prison time, to say nothing of the harm to reputation and possible impact on future employment opportunities.It is important that anyone facing investigation or charges for a theft or fraud crime seek the advice and advocacy of an experienced criminal defence lawyer as early as possible to mount a vigorous defense. The potential penalties for a conviction are too serious to face the Crown alone.