Dec 22, 2016, 9:41 pm
A former Iowa lottery security official accused of rigging drawings to win prize money in several states is facing new felony charges in Wisconsin.
A prosecutor in the Wisconsin Department of Justice filed a total of six charges against Eddie Tipton on Thursday, including one count of racketeering, a theft by fraud charge and four computers crimes charges. The charges stem from a suspect December 2007 Megabucks drawing in Wisconsin that allegedly won Tipton and a business associate a prize worth $783,257, according to a criminal complaint.
The fresh charges are the newest development in the ongoing legal saga involving Tipton, a former information security director for an Urbandale nonprofit group that distributes lottery games nationwide. Tipton, 53, was convicted of two fraud counts in Iowa last year after a prosecutor argued that he tampered with random number generators in 2010 to win a $14.3 million Hot Lotto prize. (See full legal document outlining charges in Related Links below).
After the conviction, Iowa investigators linked Tipton, his brother and a longtime friend, Robert Rhodes, to suspect jackpots in Colorado, Oklahoma, Wisconsin and Kansas and was charged with additional counts of ongoing criminal conduct and money laundering. That case is still pending.
Defense attorney Dean Stowers has maintained Tipton's innocence since he was first arrested, and said Thursday he will voluntarily appear to answer the charges. Tipton's first case is being appealed to the Iowa Supreme Court after a lower appeals court in July tossed out one of the fraud convictions, ruling that it was filed it too late.
"What the States have claimed in these cases, as best we can understand, is not a crime under the various statutes they rely upon," Stowers said. "The States basically have claimed that Mr. Tipton shared information about the way the computer programs that were tested and certified by third parties worked, and that does not appear to be a crime under the law of Iowa or Wisconsin."
A 13-page criminal complaint filed in Dane County Circuit Court offers some of the most detailed allegations to date made public to date in the case about the role of Rhodes, a Texas businessman and friend who had known Tipton since the early 1990s. Rhodes is also facing charges in Iowa for allegedly helping Tipton in an ill-fated attempt to redeem the 2010 Hot Lotto ticket worth millions.
Rhodes offered his version of events in a meeting with Wisconsin and Iowa investigators in December 2015. According to the complaint, Rhodes claimed that Tipton first approached him about the possibility of rigging a lottery in October 2007.
"Tipton told Rhodes that there was a way that Tipton could give Rhodes winning lottery numbers and asked if they should take advantage of that," the complaint reads.
In December 2007, Rhodes met with Tipton in Iowa, and the lottery security manager gave him several index cards filled with series of numbers, according to the complaint. Rhodes told investigators that Tipton instructed him to buy tickets for all of the numbers, ensuring him that one would work. Rhodes traveled to Wisconsin in a rental car, bought the tickets and learned when he got home that he had won a jackpot, according to the complaint.
Rhodes set up a limited liability corporation to receive the earnings and split half with Tipton, according to the complaint. Tipton told his friend that the scheme was possible because he had programmed random number generators used by the Wisconsin lottery to come up with a predictable number if certain conditions were met. Tipton asked Rhodes again in 2010 if he wanted to try and win another Wisconsin prize, but the Texan felt the two were "tempting fate," and he did not purchase a winning ticket.
The criminal complaint also claims that Rhodes was shown the winning 2010 Iowa ticket in January or February of the next year while Tipton was visiting him in Houston. Rhodes was initially "upset" when Tipton asked him to claim the prize money, fearing that too many people were involved, according to the complaint. But they agreed to split the proceeds again.
The criminal complaint also charges Rhodes with racketeering and theft by fraud.
Timeline of the biggest crime in US lottery history
The following is a compilation of Lottery Post news coverage chronicling the Hot Lotto mystery and subsequently discovered crime.
We start the timeline with a news story indicating that only 3 months remained for the $16 million Hot Lotto jackpot to be claimed.
Thanks to JustJim for the tip.
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