updated 10/20/2006 6:20:33 PM ET 2006-10-20T22:20:33

A former television news executive ordered to repay $181,500 in a securities fraud case got some help with the payback: He won $47,000 on the television game show “Wheel of Fortune.”

Scott Alan McDonald said he would use the TV winnings to repay former co-workers and friends who gave him money to invest — money prosecutors said he gambled away. He pleaded guilty to felony theft in 2001.

“The game show was an opportunity I didn’t think I would get,” McDonald told The Denver Post for Friday’s editions. “When it happened, I thought of it as an opportunity to pay people back quicker than I expected to be able to.”

He said he expected to receive the winnings, about $26,000 after taxes, within about four months.

Prosecutors are looking into whether they can claim his winnings to repay the victims, Denver district attorney’s spokeswoman Lynn Kimbrough said.

Must pay within 12 years
McDonald was originally indicted on charges of securities fraud, theft, forgery and working as a broker without a license. After pleading guilty to felony theft, he was sentenced to a community corrections program and given 12 years to repay the money. He could be sent to prison if he fails to repay.

Now a car salesman who lives in suburban Littleton, McDonald said he was chosen for “Wheel of Fortune” after the show held auditions in Denver last year. He said he was never asked about his criminal history. The show aired Wednesday.

A call placed to a “Wheel of Fortune” spokesperson was not immediately returned Friday.

“I’ve worked hard to rebuild my life as best I can and worked very hard to pay everyone back completely as soon as possible,” McDonald said. “Now I’m just hopeful this doesn’t screw things up.”

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