The Iowa Lottery issued an ultimatum today to the lawyer who turned in a winning Hot Lotto ticket claiming he represented a trust which owns the ticket.
Iowa Lottery C.E.O., Terry Rich, says the lawyer must tell the lottery the timeline for the purchase of the ticket, each individual that possessed the ticket and the birthdates and phone numbers of the people by 3 p.m. Friday.
“If in fact we don’t receive the information requested, it is my belief that the security department will recommend to me that we deny payment of this Hot Lotto jackpot, and we will make the decision at that point after three o’clock this Friday,” Rich told reporters.
The ticket is worth over $14-million and was turned in by Attorney Crawford Shaw two hours before the ticket was to expire on December 29th.
Rich and lottery security officials have met with Shaw, but Rich says Shaw has not provided all the information they asked for to confirm the claim is legitimate.
“And truly to me, from the very beginning and everything we’ve talked about, it’s our opinion that the citizens of Iowa deserve to know the story, and that’s what we’re trying to do when all is said and done,” Rich says.
Rich says this is the first time this sort of situation has happened with a jackpot and they decided that after one month of waiting, it was time to set a deadline. If the deadline passes without the information, Rich says the burden then falls on the ticketholder to prove they hold a legal claim.
“From there then it really goes to the owner of the ticket, whether they decided they are the rightful owner and may want to go to a court of law to decide. The point is, we are not going to pay out and will continue to have the money during the process,” Rich says.
He says it’s likely the ticket owner would have to answer the same questions the lottery is asking if they did go to court, so they would be better off to give the information now and be done with it.
Rich says if 3 o’clock Friday passes and they don’t have the information, he will consult with his staff and the Attorney General’s office and make a determination on what to do. “It may take a few days… at least it sets us a standard, it sets us a date a given point in time that gives us some closure on where we want to go at this point,” Rich says.
Rich says they have learned that Shaw is associated with criminal proceedings and bankruptcy filings in New York and Delaware, but they don’t know if that has anything to do with the winning ticket.
They also learned during the January 17th meeting that Shaw misspelled the name of the trust on the back of the ticket when he signed it, but Rich said again they don’t know what that means regarding the ability of the ticket owner to collect.