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05/04/02 . By RON WORD, AP Writer . Yahoo News . Jacksonville, FLORIDA  
Man pleads guilty to masterminding McDonald's prize scam worth $24 million  
The man who masterminded the theft of $24 million in winning McDonald's game tickets pleaded guilty Friday and was ordered to repay at least $13.4 million.  

Jerome Jacobson, 59, of Lawrenceville, Georgia, could get up to 15 years in prison for conspiracy and mail fraud. No sentencing date was set.

He was among 51 people indicted in the scam that went undetected for a dozen years and involved McDonald's games such as Monopoly and Who Wants to be a Millionaire? No McDonald's employees were involved.

Jacobson was director of security for Simon Marketing Inc., which had been hired by the fast-food chain to run its popular Monopoly games. Prosecutors said Jacobson stole winning game pieces worth up to dlrs 1 million and distributed them to others, who then redeemed the prizes.

They either kicked back a portion of their winnings to Jacobson or paid him cash up front.

Asked why Jacobson did it, defense attorney Ed Garland said outside court: "He has reflected long and hard on it, and the only thing he could come up with was utter stupidity on his part."

Twenty-nine people have pleaded guilty so far. No one has been sentenced.

Jacobson used at least some of the proceeds for good, anonymously sending a $1 million ticket to the St. Jude Children's Hospital in Memphis, Tennessee. Prosecutors contended the ticket was about to expire and Jacobson could not find anyone to cash it in. McDonald's honored the ticket after the scandal broke.  
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