Thief follows casino jackpot winner for 50 miles, robs her at ATM, Miss. officials say

A woman in Mississippi hit the jackpot — literally. Then a man robbed her gunpoint, authorities say.

Thomas Ray Ball Jr., of Clinton, pleaded guilty to armed robbery Monday after he followed the woman in 2017 from a casino to an ATM where she was trying to deposit her winnings, the district attorney’s office in Madison and Rankin counties said in a press release.

Ball was sentenced to 25 years in prison without the possibility of parole.

“This is a stark reminder for people to constantly be aware of their surroundings and those who might be watching them to commit crimes of opportunity,” District Attorney John K. Bramlett Jr. said in the statement.

Ball and a co-conspirator were canvassing a casino in Vicksburg in September 2017 when the woman, who is not identified, won a $5,000 jackpot, the DA’s office said.

He then reportedly watched her get into her car and followed her for more than 50 miles as she drove east to a bank in Ridgeland, according to the statement.

Officials said Ball pulled a gun on her as she attempted to deposit some of the winnings at the bank.

“Mr. Ball thought he saw an easy target when he saw a single woman leaving the casino late at night and followed her for over an hour with the sole purpose of robbing her a gunpoint,” Bramlett said.

She got away and found help from an officer at a nearby gas station, the DA’s office said. Using surveillance footage and cell phone tower locations from the night, officers said they were able to identify Ball.

His co-defendant Sean Johnson pleaded guilty to conspiracy charges in May.

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