Stefan Mandel, 80, fled the country 18 years ago after being indicted for running a fraudulent lottery business; now, the Romanian-born mathematician, who developed a winning algorithm, says he is ready to return
Stefan Mandel, a Jewish mathematician hit the jackpot price in lotto for the first time at the age of 24 in his native Romania thanks to an algorithm that he claims took him five years to develop. Following his win, he made aliyah to Israel where he got married and had two children.
Following a brief stint in the Jewish state, the mathematician and his family moved to Australia, where he became a citizen. In the land down under, he managed to crack the algorithm of the local lottery systems and won the jackpot an astounding 12 times.
He started a business generating algorithms for various lottery systems around the world, primarily in the British Commonwealth and the United States, which won him an army of clients.
In 1996 Mandel and his associate opened a cooperative lottery business, called “Moon-dragon.” The two founders have reportedly convinced thousands of people to financially support their organization in exchange for a chance to win land on the island nation of Vanuatu in the South Pacific.
In the early 2000s, he came back to Israel to replicate his business success but found himself under scrutiny by the Israel Securities Authority. Mandel was interrogated, made bail and once indicted left his wife and children in Israel and in fled to London back in 2002.
In 2004, Mandel was convicted on fraud charges, as he and his partner failed to give their investors the actual odds of winning, and sentenced to 10 months in prison in addition to a fine of NIS 100,000 ($29,000).
Although he has not been back to the country since, Mandel says he is ready to come back and has apparently already purchased plane tickets for sometime this April.
Over the years, Mandel tried multiple times to appeal his sentence, but since he’s defined as a fugitive of the state, his appeals have been turned down almost as soon as they were filed.
“The petitioner [Mandel] has been a fugitive for a long time,” said Deputy Chief Justice of the Supreme Court Hanan Melcer. “As a fugitive he does not deserve his appeals to be considered by the Supreme Court.”
Melcer, however, believes that Mandel shouldn’t have been convicted or sentenced since he was not present in court. “It was not right to sentence Mandel to prison since he wasn’t present at the trial,” said the judge.
The deputy chief justice said that should the 80-year-old return to Israel, he will be granted 30 days of immunity from prosecution, during which he is free to ask for a retrial and present any new evidence to the court.
“Stefan Mandel is coming back to Israel and is equipped with new evidence that will surly see him acquitted,” said Mandel’s lawyer, ” we are eager to see a retrial and have justice finally served.”
Mandel has recently declined the prosecutor’s offer to convert jail time to community service, claiming he has new evidence that will prove his innocence.