The Iowa Lottery’s legal counsel says state law enforcement officials continue to investigate the mysterious case of the abandoned $14 million “Hot Lotto” jackpot because of the “red flags that have arisen.”
Lottery officials aren’t revealing just what those “red flags” may be, though.
A panel of state legislators today questioned lottery officials about the case. The New York lawyer who said he was representing the anonymous winner withdrew the claim last week. The winning ticket, encased in a plastic bag, was passed around to members of the legislature’s Government Oversight Committee. Then the lottery’s security chief put the bagged ticket in the pocket of his suit jacket.
A couple of lawmakers joked that the ticket was theirs. Then various committee members spent nearly an hour asking questions about what would have happened if the winner was an illegal immigrant or the ticket purchaser had died.
Senator Tom Courtney, a Democrat from Burlington, asked a simple question: “What’s left to investigate now that, you know, it’s been turned down and rejected and everything?”
Lottery officials have repeatedy said the New York attorney did not provide information so security officials could determine that the ticket was legally purchased, legally possessed and legally presented for the prize. Lottery C.E.O. Terry Rich stressed that the case is now in the hands of other authorities.
“I felt really comfortable with this process,”Rich told legislators, “…This was handled in a proper way and had the best outcome for the state of Iowa — protected the citizens of the State of Iowa, no doubt.”
Lottery security chief Steve Bogle hinted at but did not reveal what “red flags” in this case still may be under investigation.
“Because of the uniqueness of the situation and the refusal to answer the questions and provide us the information we need, along with some other information that we were made aware of, we requested assistance from the (Division of Criminal Investigation) and the attorney general’s office,” Bogle said.
Bogle and other lottery officials met with prosecutors and D.C.I. agents yesterday.
Lottery vice president Mary Neubauer suggested there’s a reason the public — and legislators themselves — are so fascinated by this case.
“What would make some voluntarily just say: ‘Never mind. I don’t want $10 million,'” Neubauer said. “That’s the question. We may never know.”
The winning ticket was purchased in December of 2010 and presented at lottery headquarters nearly a year later — less than two hours before the deadline.
AUDIO of Hot Lotto jackpot briefing before legislature’s Government Oversight Committee.