Something really stunk at this Queens bodega.
A sticky-fingered deli clerk as dirty as the floors beneath him tried to scam a retired MTA worker out of a $14 million winning Lotto ticket by claiming the ticket was a loser.
But yesterday, Milledge McCassell, 72, collected his once-imperiled jackpot -- as the Queens DA's Office revealed it was investigating the clerk who tried to steal it.
"I'm thrilled!" said the Laurelton, Queens, resident. "Winning Lotto is a great thing!"
But his dance with Lady Luck almost never came.
On Aug. 25, McCassell went to Ideal Stop, Dairy and Grill in Laurelton and paid $2 to buy four "Quick Pick" Lotto tickets for that night's drawing.
The next day -- unaware that one of his tickets hit the $14 million jackpot -- McCassell went to another lottery vendor, Dynasty Deli and Grocery on Jamaica Avenue, to check his tickets.
There, McCassell swiped them on an electronic scanner available to customers -- and the scanner flashed the thrilling message: "Big Winner!"
"I knew I was a big winner," McCassell said. "I just didn't know how much."
McCassell gave the ticket to a clerk -- but when the clerk scanned it, he "told him that it wasn't a big winner," New York Lottery Director Gordon Medenica said.
When McCassell asked for the ticket back, the clerk told him "he had lost the ticket," Medenica said. "The clerk said, 'I already threw it away.' "
A sheepish McCassell returned to the store three times but was repeatedly rebuffed.
Because McCassell hadn't signed the ticket, anyone turning it in to Lottery officials could have tried to collect.
The following day, panicked and heartbroken, McCassell went to the store where he had originally purchased the ticket, desperately looking for help.
"He's our best customer," said storeowner Hussein Mused. "I told him I'd help him get back his ticket!"
McCassell and Mused notified Lottery officials, who called in the State Police.
When State Police probers went to Dynasty Deli the following day, "miraculously" the clerk in question said he had "found" the missing ticket, Medenica said.
Lottery officials say they believe the clerk was holding onto the ticket because he was preparing to make a claim for it himself.
They also believed that McCassell is its true owner because computer records corroborate where he bought the ticket and where it was scanned.
Yesterday, McCassell claimed his prize, electing to receive a lump-sum payment of $8.7 million, $5.5 million after taxes.
He said he still hasn't "made up my mind" about how to spend the Lotto loot.
State officials said they suspended Dynasty Deli's license to sell lottery tickets.
Owner Taha Derham Al Saidi
said yesterday, "That guy doesn't work here anymore."
Additional reporting by William J. Gorta
Follow up , the guy "who does not work here anymore" was identified as the store co-owner and brother of Miss Al Saidi