Lottery ticket leads FBI to Illinois bank robbery suspect

Sometimes when you win, you really lose.

Such is the case for Arlington Heights resident Dexter L. Riley, whose good fortune in the Illinois lottery helped the FBI link him to a bank robbery last month in Palatine.

The FBI on Thursday announced Riley, 38, is charged with holding up the Chase Bank at 1131 E. Dundee Road on Sept. 28, getting away with more than $8,250 in the heist.

It’s what authorities say Riley left behind — a scratch-off lottery ticket — that led to his undoing.

A criminal complaint filed Wednesday alleges Riley walked into the bank about 9:34 a.m. on Sept. 28 wearing dark clothes and what appeared to be a dark-colored wig under a hooded sweatshirt.

The robber approached a teller and handed over a plastic bag and handwritten note reading, “Put all the money in the bag and we won’t have any problems,” according to an FBI agent’s affidavit. The man kept his left hand in a pocket, leading the teller to believe he might be armed. The teller emptied her drawer into the plastic bag and the robber left.

When an FBI agent later reviewed surveillance video of the holdup, he spotted something unusual — a piece of paper falling from the robber’s pocket during the heist, court documents state. The agent later recovered the paper, which turned out to be a scratch-off ticket. With help from the Illinois Lottery, the agent learned it was sold the night before at a gas station in Rolling Meadows, according to his affidavit.

The Illinois Lottery told the FBI that four winning tickets sold at the gas station that night were cashed in last Tuesday morning at another gas station in Deer Park, according to court papers. Surveillance video from that station showed a person matching the robber’s description redeeming the tickets, then driving away in a Chrysler Pacifica with temporary plates.

Later that night, a Palatine police officer spotted that vehicle, pulled it over and found Riley behind the wheel, the FBI said. A document found in the minivan shows it was purchased Sept. 29 — a day after the bank robbery — for $3,500.

The FBI says Riley later admitted to the heist, telling investigators he used the money to buy the Pacifica, pay rent, purchase a game system and get drugs. He also identified himself as the person in the bank surveillance video and was identified by the bank’s manager in a lineup, according to the FBI.

Riley has not yet appeared in court, records indicate.