Monday, September 12, 2016

Jose Cardoso | Lottery Card Mix-Up

Credit Fred R. Conrad for The New York Times
The old man shuffled along West 10th Street on Thursday toward the police station in Manhattan. He has lived next door for decades. He had a question.
He paused before the decorative iron fence marked “6th PCT,” and the plaque naming its donors: “The Camacho Family.” That was his extended family, with whom the man, Jose Cardoso, has lived on the block since the 1950s.
He entered the police precinct house, walking past uniformed officers, sticking his head into a detective’s office and shouting, “Is Jimmy here?” The detective he was looking for greeted him, and Mr. Cardoso asked him when he was expected back in court. He had forgotten the date.
Almost three weeks earlier, on Aug. 21, a man in a West Village flower shop grabbed a pair of pruning shears during a dispute with another man over a lottery ticket. No one was hurt, but the police were summoned, and an officer handcuffed the man accused of waving the shears: Mr. Cardoso.
He was charged with menacing. He is 81.
“I’ve got six grandchildren,” he said on Thursday. “I was in Vietnam.” He shook his head when he thought back to that day.
“This is ridiculous,” he said.
Mr. Cardoso was born in Portugal in 1935 and moved to New York 20 years later. His family bought an apartment building on West 10th Street, and he worked in a deli downstairs, then became the building’s super, he said.
He is retired and lives in an apartment on the fourth floor with his son. He and his wife separated many years ago, he said. He does not sleep much, and he goes out and walks around, a vestige of the city from when it was a city and not just a word that comes after “Sex and the.”
He plays the lottery.
“You lose more than you win,” he said.
He was a regular at the Hudson Flower Shop, itself a member of the old guard on a block with few left. The owners have been there 20 years. They sell many other things in the tiny store, including lottery tickets.
When Mr. Cardoso entered the shop last month, he saw what looked like a $25 New York Millions scratch-off card sitting on the counter.
“I thought it was a sample,” he said, referring to the cards that are used only for display. He picked it up to check. “I start scratching,” he said.
Turns out, it was the real thing. Suddenly, a man appeared behind him in the small shop and became angry, saying the lottery card was his, Mr. Cardoso said.
Mr. Cardoso picked up a lottery ticket he saw on the counter of Hudson Flower Shop. He said he did not know it belonged to someone else. Credit Fred R. Conrad for The New York Times
Mr. Cardoso said he offered to pay for the ticket, even though he thought the man was a con artist who had been lying in wait for someone to pick up the card.
Things escalated.
“The guy threatened to hurt me,” Mr. Cardoso said. So he grabbed a pair of shears used for cutting stems.
The police arrived and an officer he didn’t know — “a rookie” — handcuffed him.
“I’ve got nothing against the cops,” he said. “I get along with everybody.” He was released with a summons and told to return to court in October.
A woman who owns the flower shop recalled the incident on Thursday; her husband was working there the day of the dispute and had told her about it. She gave only her first name, May, because she said she did not want to get involved.
“Very nice guy,” she said. She was not referring to Mr. Cardoso. She meant the other man.
He is a regular customer, maybe a bouncer at a nearby bar, she said. He has helped her.
The shop has been the target of a series of nighttime break-ins, with the thief stealing cigarettes. She has hidden the cigarettes in the bathroom before locking up at night, but the thief still finds them.
She knows the neighborhood, over all, is safer than it was 20 years ago, but it does not feel that way to her. “I think worse,” she said.
She told the bouncer this assessment, and he gave her some advice and suggested which local officials to contact.
The day of the dispute, the bouncer had asked for the New York Millions scratch-off card. But he then realized he was low on cash and turned to an ATM next to the front door. Mr. Cardoso had apparently passed him without noticing.
“The old man came in and sees the ticket and starts to scratch,” May said, adding that while he could be argumentative, she did not see him as a threat.
This version of events was relayed to Mr. Cardoso. He listened as his con-artist theory crumbled. He said he learned something from all this.
“Everybody makes mistakes,” he said. “I shouldn’t have touched that ticket.”
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