DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) — 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 for him 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 Monday after just five hours of deliberation. Tipton declined to comment after 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 various games and other lottery game 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 coworkers 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 and cash it in without divulging the name of the original ticket buyer. Since Iowa law requires jackpot winners to be identified, the jackpot was never paid.
“I think this ought to be a wakeup call to other states in terms of maybe they should emulate the Iowa lottery’s requirements,” said Iowa Assistant Attorney General Rob Sand.
Tipton’s attorney, Dean Stowers, said he would appeal based on a lack of sufficient evidence.
“What they did was prove a lot of facts that didn’t connect and the jury was allowed to speculate as to what those facts meant,” he said.
Tipton remains free on bond until he’s sentenced Sept. 9. He faces a maximum of five years in prison on each count.
Hot Lotto is offered in 14 states and the District of Columbia.
Follow David Pitt on Twitter at https://twitter.com/davepitt