Wow: Iowa Lotto Official Busted For Rigging $14 Million Drawing

Former Iowa based lotto official Eddie Tipton, convicted of rigging a $14 million drawing (Photo via Tomo News US)

A former leader of the Iowa-based Multi State Lottery Association is headed to prison for ten years after he tried to rig a drawing worth millions, all part of a complicated “inside job” that backfired big time.

Eddie Tipton was supposed to help secure the MSLA’s systems, instead an Iowa jury decided last week Tipton would be the first lottery official in the country convicted of tampering with a lotto drawing for his own financial benefit.

The controversy started near Christmas time in December of 2011, when a New York attorney tried to cash in the multi million dollar ticket on behalf of a client mere hours before it would no longer be valid.

According to the Des Moines Register:

The case has enthralled Iowans and gained national attention since late December 2011, when a New York attorney tried to claim — just hours before it would expire — a Hot Lotto ticket worth $14.3 million on behalf of a trust incorporated in Belize. The identity of the original ticket purchaser was a mystery.

Authorities with the Iowa Division of Criminal Investigation began looking into Tipton after several people identified him as the hooded man in a video showing the ticket being purchased at a Des Moines QuikTrip. At the time, Tipton was the information security director for the Urbandale-based Multi-State Lottery Association that provides games such as Hot Lotto to lotteries nationwide.

Sand told jurors at trial that Tipton installed a self-deleting software program, called a rootkit, onto lottery drawing computers to manipulate the outcome of a Dec. 29, 2010, draw. Tipton then filtered the winning ticket he bought through a friend, Robert Clark Rhodes II, from Texas in an attempt to claim the money, Sand said.

Tipton’s attorney argued for leniency in sentencing, referencing the fact that the winnings were never paid out. The Judge disagreed, saying Tipton violated the public trust in a substantial way.

Stowers argued to Farrell that a probation sentence was appropriate for Tipton because the Iowa Lottery became suspicious and never paid out any of the ticket winnings — though he was careful not to imply that his client was guilty.

But the judge said a 10-year prison sentence was warranted because the crime represented a massive breach of trust. Farrell told Tipton that he could have burned or otherwise destroyed the winning ticket after he purchased it.

“You had opportunities, and you didn’t take any of those,” he said.

“The biggest issue I have in this case is that you were in a position of trust with the Multi-State Lottery and a vendor of the Iowa Lottery,” he said. “In fact, your job was to make sure that the lottery wasn’t breached. To make sure that somebody didn’t cheat the game.”