Jan 30, 2006, 8:57 am
William C. Foreman could spend 50 years in state prison if he's convicted of stealing secrets from the Hoosier Lottery in an effort to rig a million-dollar scratch-off game.
But the former lottery security official's trial has been delayed so he can challenge the constitutionality of the nation's harshest penalty for breaching lottery security.
The state's top lottery official, Esther Q. Schneider, favors the stiff penalty to deter inside jobs that threaten public confidence in the Hoosier Lottery, which has been a cash cow for state government since 1989, generating nearly $10 billion in sales.
"They need to go for the throat," Schneider said.
Former Hoosier Lottery Director Jack Crawford says reaching for the throat goes too far when it comes to Indiana's law prohibiting disclosure of confidential lottery records for financial gain.
Crawford is the Indianapolis defense attorney representing Foreman, 60, a retired Indianapolis Police Department sergeant who resigned from the lottery in 2004 amid a criminal investigation.
"The law has to make sense, and this one doesn't," Crawford said. "Some forms of rape, child molesting and armed robbery are considered lesser offenses."
He has filed a motion in Marion Superior Court to dismiss the felony charge. Foreman is scheduled to go to trial March 20.
Marion Superior Court Judge Grant W. Hawkins has not yet ruled.
The Indiana attorney general's office and the Marion County prosecutor's office are opposing Crawford's effort to invalidate the law.
"The General Assembly has said this is so serious it needs to be an A felony," Marion County Prosecutor Carl Brizzi said. "If the public loses confidence in the lottery, there will be no lottery." [Editor: Using the same logic, why don't they get rid of the computerized drawings?]
Nonetheless, Brizzi acknowledged even he was surprised to find the penalty was so severe when Foreman was charged in November 2004.
The game at issue is the continuing "$2,000,000 Bonus Spectacular," in which million-dollar scratch-off winners get a shot at another million-dollar prize at the end of the game. Tickets began selling for $20 each in January 2004, and the Hoosier Lottery says two million-dollar winning tickets have yet to be claimed.
In their brief to the court, Deputy Prosecutor Rom Byron and Deputy Attorney General Chad C. Duran say Foreman was a trusted lottery employee whose duties included monitoring Scientific Games, the Atlanta company that printed Indiana's lottery tickets.
Prosecutors say Foreman used his inside knowledge to direct two accomplices to a store in Cross Plains that had a winning ticket. There, they bought all of the tickets.
They have agreed to plead guilty and testify against Foreman, who Crawford says made "not a dime" from the alleged ticket scam.
The 20 to 50 years in prison Foreman faces is considerably more than the two to eight years a defendant in Indiana could expect if convicted of any other financial crime.
Crawford argues that, with the exception of unlawfully disclosing confidential lottery information, 50-year prison terms have been exclusively reserved in Indiana for the most violent crimes or serious drug crimes.
"While the lottery might be very important to the economic well-being of the citizens of Indiana, a violation of its rules or a scheme to defraud this institution cannot be compared equally with crimes such as attempted murder, kidnapping, child molesting and rape," Crawford told the court in a motion to dismiss.
For these reasons, Crawford, who was the first lottery director in 1989 under then-Gov. Evan Bayh, said the state law Foreman is accused of breaking violates both the U.S. and Indiana constitutions.
"There is simply no rational justification to punish Mr. Foreman up to five times greater for disclosing confidential lottery information than if he had stolen $1 billion from the citizens of Indiana from a different state agency," Crawford stated in his motion to dismiss.
Schneider, the Hoosier Lottery's executive director, said the lottery relies upon voluntary purchases and thus is more dependent on public support than other state agencies.
"We have to make sure the public knows the lottery games are fair, secure and fun," she said. "To think that somebody could rig a million-dollar scratch-off game is unacceptable."
About the case
A former lottery official, William C. Foreman, is accused of disclosing the location of a winning lottery ticket in a $2 million scratch-off game.
Two Shelby County men, Chad R. Adkins and Daniel J. Foltz, claimed the $1 million prize in September 2004 after at least one of them had bought all of the tickets in the store where the winner was located.
How it happened
A trucker called in and said he thought he had a winning ticket in the $2 million game but had lost it. He also couldn't remember at which of about 40 stores he might have bought it. The lottery's security director told a lottery investigator to look into the claims.
That investigator obtained locations of the winning tickets from the lottery's ticket maker, Scientific Games, to see whether any of the stores the trucker listed had had the winning ticket. The trucker wasn't a winner. But Foreman allegedly gained access to the locations of winning tickets and told Adkins and Foltz where to find one.
Status of the case
Foreman is scheduled to go on trial March 20. Adkins and Foltz have agreed to plead guilty to theft and pay back the money in exchange for their testimony against Foreman. Adkins and Foltz are scheduled to plead guilty and be sentenced April 11.
In Indiana, the following crimes carry the same maximum 50-year prison term as unlawful disclosure of confidential lottery information:
Indiana's penalty is most severe in nation
Thirty-nine states have lotteries, but only Indiana has a penalty of up to 50 years in prison for defrauding, stealing from or trying to steal from a lottery.
A sampling of state penalties:
Source: "Memorandum of Law" filed by William C. Foreman's attorney, Jack Crawford, in Foreman's Marion Superior Court case
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