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Ex-Waynesboro chief, wife win lottery prize

November 11, 2003|by LAURA ERNDE

laurae@herald-mail.com

A former Waynesboro, Pa., police chief who retired early when the town refused him a raise has won $3.4 million in the Maryland Lottery.

"I feel vindicated now," said Glenn Phenicie, who won the prize with his wife, Valerie, a registered nurse who works at Chambersburg (Pa.) Hospital.

The couple went to Baltimore on Monday to claim the prize, which they chose to take in 25 annual installments of $136,000.

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After taxes, the amount will be $92,200 per year, which is more than the couple made when they both were working full time, he said.

They didn't take the lump-sum payout because they didn't want to be tempted to spend recklessly, Phenicie said. Plus, they will receive more money over time with the annuity payout, he said.

"We want to be able to live off this for the rest of our lives," he said.

Glenn Phenicie retired in July 2000 after nearly 30 years with the police department, including 13 years as chief.

Phenicie was making $43,500 per year. At the time, he said he talked to council members about being the lowest-paid police chief in the area, but never heard back from them.

Phenicie's former boss, Borough Manager Lloyd Hamberger, offered his congratulations on the big win.

"Gee, I wonder if he'll loan me a couple of bucks," Hamberger said.

Glenn Phenicie, 54, bought the winning ticket at Break Away II on Pennsylvania Avenue in Hagerstown, a bar and liquor store that his nephew, Paul Adolini, opened in June.

He had stopped in for a Mega Millions ticket and decided on the spur of the moment to buy a Lotto ticket as well. Although he has regular Lotto numbers, he decided to let the computer pick for him that time.

Phenicie discovered he had the winning ticket when he checked the lottery Web site, mdlottery.com, on Sunday morning.

Still in a state of disbelief, Phenicie checked the newspaper, called the winning numbers line and asked Adolini to check the numbers on his lottery terminal.

"Then it sunk in," he said.

Phenicie, who will be able to quit his part-time job as an insurance salesman, said he consulted with his boss about whether it would make more sense to take the annuity or lump-sum option.

Adolini said he hopes Phenicie continues to work two Sundays a month at his other business, Break Away in Waynesboro, Pa. Adolini's business will receive $3,400 for selling the winning ticket.

Valerie Phenicie, who works in the hospital's pain clinic, said she plans to quit her job with the hospital, where she's worked for 28 years.

She called to tell them she wouldn't be coming to work Monday, saying "something important came up." She didn't tell them she won the lottery because at the time she didn't believe it herself.

Even after being handed a large cardboard check in front of television cameras at Break Away II, she said reality still hadn't set in.

Other than quitting their jobs, the couple hasn't talked about their plans.

They said they'll probably buy a new house, selling the west end home they've lived in for about 20 years.

As a hobby, they like to frequent flea markets. Valerie Phenicie also likes Longaberger baskets and said she'll probably add to her collection.

The Phenicies are regular lottery players, spending about $2,000 per year on tickets in Pennsylvania and Maryland, Glenn Phenicie said.

"You're always hoping, but you never really think it's going to happen," he said.

The couple has one son, Jason Phenicie, 26, who does graphic design and computer work for Old Dominion University in Hampton, Va.

Before he joined the police force, Glenn Phenicie served in the Army. He spent 18 months in combat as a helicopter gunner from March 1968 to September 1969. His unit flew troops into battle and picked them up afterward, including the wounded.

He was 21 when he joined the police department as the youngest patrolman ever. His starting pay was $5,800.

When he retired as chief, Sgt. Ray Shultz was promoted to chief at a salary of $46,000 per year. Phenicie said that was more money than he was asking for.

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