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Defense quickly wraps up in Hot Lotto trial

Jul 16, 2015, 7:25 pm

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Hot Lotto

Argues that store video does not show Tipton

Includes video report

The defense rested its case Thursday afternoon about an hour after starting to call witnesses in the trial of a man accused of rigging a Hot Lotto computerized lottery drawing.

Eddie Tipton, 51, is charged with two counts of fraud.  He was a lottery security worker who is charged with rigging a Hot Lotto game so he could win a $14.3 million jackpot.

This morning a worker at the multi-state lottery spoke of Eddie Tipton's expertise of the computer equipment. The prosecution believes Tipton used a root kit to rig the lotto system.

"If he said he had to do something to the computer in order to do whatever he was there to do, you wouldn't challenge it?" said Rob Sand, assistant Iowa attorney general.

"No, I would not," said Kathy Renaud, a Multi-State Lottery employee.

She said when she first saw the surveillance footage of the ticket purchase she didn't immediately recognize the man.

"When I heard the audio of the video, it was Eddie," said Renaud.

The man buying the ticket in the video has facial hair, which she said Tipton has had in the past.

"Not most of the time, but 50 percent probably," said Renaud.

Ed Stefan was called again to the stand to talk about how he told Tipton he needed to find travel receipts on Thursday morning.

Prosecution also recalled DCI Agent Smith to discuss Tipton's phone records. The prosecution rested about 10 a.m.

The Defense countered by putting members of the Tipton family on the stand to dispute the store surveillance footage.

Tipton's three siblings testified the man in the video was not their brother. They pointed to various physical characteristics and mannerisms.

"Several reasons just the general size for one, shoe size for another — never seen him wear a hooded jacked, never has he had a beard," said Denise Tipton, Eddie's sister.

"The guy was doing everything left-handed," said Steven Tipton, Eddie's brother.

"Why is that important," asked Defense Attorney Dean Stowers.

"My brother is not left-handed, he's right-handed," said Steven Tipton.

Stowers also presented pictures of the Tipton's Christmas gathering that year in Texas. He again pointed out Tipton's clean-shaven appearance.

He said he did not have a beard on Christmas Day 2010.

While Tipton's family members took to the stand, Tipton himself did not.

About an hour into the defense presenting testimony, they rested. Closing arguments are scheduled to start at 9 a.m. on Friday.

Biggest lottery fraud trial

Court proceedings began on Tuesday in what is described as the biggest lottery fraud trial ever.

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

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.  Sand also said that 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. Sand referred to it as a 21st Century crime and an inside job.

Then Defense attorney Dean Stowers gave his opening remarks.

Stowers said the store video of actual ticket purchase is unclear and fuzzy, and 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 that although people hearing the voice on the video say it is Tipton, they were not sure at first, but formed their opinions after talking with others at the office.

Stowers said there is no evidence to show Tipton tampered with the Hot Lotto computer, and that Tipton is not guilty of the crime.

Prosecution's case

The Prosecution called several witnesses to the stand over the course of three days.

The first Prosecution witness, Michael Boardman of the Maine Lottery, said he recognized Tipton as being the person buying the winning lottery ticket on the store surveillance video.  He said he recognized Tipton by his voice and mannerisms.

Boardman is a longtime employee of the Maine Lottery who testified that he met Tipton twice. 

He said that he was not 100-percent sure it was Tipton in the video because he could not identify the individual in the video by face.

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

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.

In testimony on Wednesday, various workers at the lottery took the stand to describe the software and how the lottery chooses its numbers, as well as their work with Tipton.

Executive Director of the Multi-State Lottery Association (MUSL) Charles Strutt was called to the witness stand Wednesday morning.  He talked about Tipton's duties.

Strutt said he was stunned to see the video and stunned it was Tipton buying the ticket.

Noelle Krueger, another MUSL employyee, said on the stand that she is 100 percent sure the man on the video is Tipton.  She talked about her working relationship with Tipton.

The Defense questioned inconsistencies in what Kruger said about the video, including what she said she saw the person in the video wearing and what the person actually had on.

Another man taking the stand talked about knowing Tipton for 20-plus years.  He told the jury he met the defendant in class at the University of Houston in the early 90s, and that later he helped Tipton get a job with the Multi-State Lottery Association.

The man said it made him sick to see the video of the ticket purchase because he recognized the man in the video as Eddie Tipton.

VIDEO: Watch the news report

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