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Trial underway in world's biggest lottery fraud case

Jul 14, 2015, 8:35 pm

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Hot Lotto

Includes video report

The first witnesses, including the lottery's vice president of security, took the stand Tuesday after opening statements in the trial of a former lottery worker charged in the Hot Lotto mystery winner case.

The trial for Eddie Tipton is being held in a Polk County courtroom. Tipton, 51, is charged with two counts of fraud.

Tuesday afternoon, Steve Bogle, Iowa Lottery vice president for security, took the witness stand and talked about why people hired by the lottery are barred from playing. He testified about the people who tried to come forward and claim the winning ticket was their own.

Bogle said he did not recognize Tipton in the store video as being the man who was buying the winning ticket.

FIRST WITNESSES:

Taking the witness stand first was the man who said he recognized Tipton as being the person buying the winning lottery ticket on the store video.  The witness said he recognized him by voice and mannerisms.

The man is a longtime employee of the Maine Lottery. Defense attorney Stowers asked how many times the man had met Tipton. He replied, "twice." 

The witness said he was not 100-percent sure it was Tipton in the video. The witness said he could not identify individual in the video by face.

The second witness on the stand was an Iowa lottery employee.  She said she recognized Tipton as the buyer of the tickets beyond a reasonable doubt.

OPENING STATEMENTS - PROSECUTION:

During openings, Assistant Iowa Attorney General Rob Sand said the evidence will show the charges against Tipton are backed up by evidence. He said this is a case of an "inside job."

Sand said the first person claiming to have bought the ticket did not match the store surveillance video showing the purchase of the ticket.

Sand said Tipton set up an alibi of being off work, on vacation and out of town.  He said witnesses will testify at the trial based on the surveillance video that the man who bought the winning ticket is Tipton.  He said bank and phone records prove Tipton was in town during the time the ticket was purchased.

Tipton wrote the program that picks the Hot Lotto numbers.  He is accused of rigging and buying the winning ticket -- Prosecutor Sand said this is a 21st Century crime and an inside job.

OPENING STATEMENTS - DEFENSE:

Defense attorney Dean Stowers started his openings about 10:40 a.m.

Stowers said the store video of actual ticket purchase is unclear and fuzzy.  He said the video shows a person with a beard and mustache.  Stowers said pictures from Tipton's Texas vacation show a clean shaven man two days after the bearded person with a mustache bought the ticket.

He said people hearing the voice on the video said it was Tipton -- they were not sure at first but after talking with others at the office they were more sure.

Stowers said there is no evidence to show Tipton tampered with the Hot Lotto computer. Stowers said evidence will show Tipton is not guilty.

CASE BACKGROUND:

Authorities said the former lottery security officer fixed the Hot Lotto game in 2010 to get himself a winning ticket worth millions.  After no one initially came forward to claim the prize, an out-of-state lawyer stepped forward to collect the jackpot on behalf of someone.  The lottery rejected that claim and started an investigation to uncover the identity of the mystery winner.

Tipton denies the charges and said he didn't buy the winning ticket.

VIDEO: Watch the news report

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