Ex-lottery worker convicted of rigging system to win $14M
DES MOINES, Iowa — A former lottery security official was found guilty Monday of rigging a computerized Hot Lotto game so he could win a $14 million jackpot, then trying to get acquaintances to cash the prize without revealing his identity.
Prosecutors said Eddie Tipton inserted a stealth program into the computer that randomly picked the numbers, then deleted it so it could not be detected. Although Tipton, 52, never got his hands on the winning total, he was charged with two counts of fraud.
Jurors found him guilty in just five hours of deliberation. Tipton declined to comment on the verdict.
Tipton of Norwalk had been working for the Des Moines-based Multi-State Lottery Association since 2003 and was promoted to information security director in 2013. The nonprofit association is operated by 37 mostly state-run lotteries to oversee picking numbers for games and other administrative functions.
As an employee, Tipton was prohibited from playing the lottery in Iowa. He was fired after his January arrest.
Surveillance video from a Des Moines convenience store shows a hooded man buying the winning Hot Lotto ticket in December 2010. The video is fuzzy, and the face of the man isn't clear. Several of Tipton's former co-workers and friends testified at trial that the man in the video is Tipton. His sister and two brothers testified it isn't him.
Iowa prosecutors allege Tipton bought the same numbers that he had programmed into the lottery computer a month earlier. He then gave the ticket to a friend in Texas who prosecutors say reached out to attorneys in Canada and Texas to try to cash it in without divulging the name of the original ticket buyer. Since Iowa law requires jackpot winners be identified, the jackpot was never paid.
“I think this ought to be a wake-up call to other states in terms of maybe they should emulate the Iowa lottery's requirements,” Iowa Assistant Attorney General Rob Sand said.
Tipton's attorney, Dean Stowers, said he would appeal based on a lack of sufficient evidence.