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SHERIFF'S DEPUTY WINS HALF JACKPOT IN LOTTERY.

Byline: Dana Bartholomew and Andrea Cavanaugh Staff Writer

A deputy sheriff walked into a Fillmore convenience store Thursday and sauntered out knowing he held a lottery ticket worth half of the $42 million jackpot.

Ventura County Deputy Sheriff Robert Arnold entered the Central Market in Fillmore, not knowing he had won half of Wednesday's $42 million SuperLotto Plus jackpot. But when the 52-year-old veteran deputy learned of his win, he immediately turned in his badge and headed to the state lottery office in Van Nuys to claim his money.

``He's going to relax, help out his family and buy a new home - he just won $21 million,'' said lotto spokeswoman Norma Minas said.

Arnold, who lives in the historic farm town of Fillmore, elected to receive a cash payment of $11.5 million - minus 25 percent in federal taxes - rather than collect a 26-year payout of the full amount.

He won on a Quick Pick, Minas said, which he prefers to play on payouts of $30 million or more. He's already won several thousand at the numbers game.

``It feels good,'' said Ashish Verna, manager of Central Market, which was reduced to rubble in the 1994 Northridge Earthquake, but, rebuilt, now stands to get $105,000 for selling Arnold the winning ticket.

``First time in Fillmore - it's big.''

Arnold will share the $42 million pot with a winner from Redding, who will be announced this morning.

``He's probably so overwhelmed he doesn't know if he's coming or going,'' said Sgt. Ralph Zermeno, who has worked with Arnold for years.

``It's probably going to take a few days to sink in.''

Ventura County Sheriff's Department officials praised Arnold as a friendly cop with a special knack for nailing drunk drivers. They said they weren't aware he had plans to holster his gun soon.

``I don't know what his plans are,'' sheriff's spokesman Eric Nishimoto said. ``He did say he wasn't coming into work today.''

Dana Bartholomew, (818) 713-3730

dana.bartholomew(at)dailynews.com
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Publication:Daily News (Los Angeles, CA)
Date:Mar 5, 2004
Words:332
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