The Government Oversight Committee in the Iowa House is asking questions about the case involving a lottery contractor who is charged with trying to illegally claim a Hot Lotto jackpot. Iowa Lottery CEO Terry Rich met with the committee today and offered a briefing on security and the four-year-long timeline for the case.
“Iowa stopped this fraud and what we believe was a fraud on the Iowa Lottery…thanks to the structure that we had,” Rich said.
A handful of states allow lottery winners to remain anonymous, but Iowa law requires public disclosure of the winner’s name. Rich said that’s one factor that helped prevent Eddie Tipton, an lottery contractor, from claiming the Hot Lotto prize. Rich said the other major factor is that no one person has all the “keys” to lottery security systems, to prevent the kind of fraud alleged in this case.
“A test for us to show a great team is a great team when you have adversity and trying to figure this thing out,” Rich said.
Tipton was an IT expert who worked for the Multi-State Lottery Association and who was prevented by law from buying Iowa Lottery tickets. He has been charged with two counts of fraud. His trial has been delayed until July and Rich told legislators he was limited in what he could discuss about the case. Representative Mary Wolfe, a Democrat from Clinton who is an attorney, nonetheless pressed for an answer.
“Have you been able to determine did he just get lucky — you know, what a coincidence — or was he able to somehow hack the system or do something that allowed him to…get that winning ticket?” Wolfe asked during the committee meeting.
Representative Clel Baudler, a Republican from Greenfield, said he wants Rich and other key lottery officials to come back to testify to the Oversight Committee once the trial is over to get more answers.
“It’s really, really suspicious,” Baudler said.
If Tipton did something to game the system, Baudler wants to know all about it.
“I think a lot will come out in court and a lot of people that I talk to want to know the answer to that question,” Baudler said.
Steve Bogle, the Iowa Lottery’s security chief, is among those who’ve been called to testify and he’s careful in how he talks about the allegation that Tipton may have rigged computer software to generate the winning numbers on that ticket.
“We’ll just have to wait to see what happens, comes out at the trial, what proof is presented on whether or not he did it or not,” Bogle told reporters this morning after the House Oversight Committee meeting.
Tipton isn’t the only person charged in this case. A man from Houston, Texas, who once employed Tipton is charged with fraud, accused of working with attorneys in New York and Canada to try to claim the prize without revealing Tipton’s identity.
The ticket Tipton has been accused of buying went unclaimed for nearly year. Then, just before the ticket was to expire on December 29, 2011, a New York attorney tried to claim the prize for a trust incorporated in Belize. Iowa Lottery officials refused to turn over the $14.3 million Hot Lotto jackpot because the people involved in the trust refused to reveal their identities.