A former lottery security chief was sentenced to 25 years in prison on Tuesday for rigging the computerized lottery drawings in several states so he could collect the jackpots.
Eddie Tipton, former security director of the Multi-State Lottery Association (MUSL), received the maximum sentence from an Iowa judge, who mentioned Tipton's "greed" in his sentencing.
"I certainly regret my actions," Tipton told the court. "It's difficult even saying that with all the people that I know behind me that I hurt."
Tipton pleaded guilty in June to a charge of ongoing criminal conduct for a scheme involving seven lottery tickets in five states, according to court documents. He admitted to rigging computer programming code to produce winning numbers — netting Tipton and his accomplices millions of dollars.
Tipton has agreed to pay about $2.2 million in restitution, including $1.1 million to the Colorado lottery, $644,000 to the Oklahoma lottery, $391,000 to the Wisconsin lottery and $30,000 to the Kansas lottery.
When Judge Brad McCall asked him on Tuesday how he intended to repay the money, Tipton said, "Initially, I really don't know."
Prior to his sentencing, Tipton's lawyer said his client was ready to accept his punishment.
"He looks forward to putting this entire matter behind him and moving on with his life after he serves his sentence," lawyer Dean Stowers said in an email. He had asked the judge for a suspended sentence.
Tipton was formerly a programmer with the Multi-State Lottery Association, the agency that administers some state lottery drawings. He designed and maintained software "for computerized random number generators used to select winning lottery numbers in many states across the country," according to the office of Iowa Attorney General Tom Miller.
Tipton, who lives in Texas, is accused of buying lottery tickets in various states, including Iowa, and selecting numbers that he knew would win, since he designed the program that generated the winning numbers. Tipton then gave these tickets to third parties who agreed to cash them and split the money with him.
He launched construction on a 4,800-square-foot home outside of Des Moines that contained a movie theater, a gym, overlooked a pond and sat on 22 acres after his first illegal win in 2005, court documents show. The scam went on to claim at least six more games across five states that netted more than $2 million, investigators alleged.
The scam began to unravel following unsuccessful attempts to anonymously collect a $16.5 million Hot Lotto ticket that was purchased at a Des Moines convenience store in 2010.
One his accomplices was his brother, Tommy Tipton, authorities said. The investigation against the Tipton brothers began in 2010, with a suspicious claim for a $14.3 million Hot Lotto jackpot in Iowa that lottery officials refused to pay. The Iowa Division of Criminal Investigation traced Tipton's scheme to other states as well.
Eddie Tipton made a deal with prosecutors in June, in which he pleaded guilty to the Iowa charge of ongoing criminal conduct. Prosecutors dropped a charge of money laundering. He will be allowed to serve the Iowa sentence concurrently with a sentence of up to five-and-a-half years in Wisconsin, where he pleaded guilty to theft by fraud and computer crime.
His brother Tommy Tipton, a former judge in Texas, is currently serving a 75-day sentence in Texas for a misdemeanor theft charge and deferred judgment on a felony charge of conspiracy to commit theft.
The Tiptons' friend Robert Rhodes, who also lives in Texas, was the one who attempted to redeem the $14.3 million jackpot. He has pleaded guilty to fraud and will be sentenced on Friday.
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.
- Iowa Lottery security chief bent on determining identity of jackpot winner, Jan. 10, 2012
- NY lawyer in lottery mystery travels to Iowa this week, Jan. 17, 2012
- Iowa Lottery security chief to grill NY lawyer over Hot Lotto ticket, Jan. 17, 2012
- Representative of Hot Lotto winner named in lawsuit, Jan. 20, 2012
- Hot Lotto trust representative won't name winner, Jan. 20, 2012
- Iowa Lottery threatens to deny jackpot payout if winner stays anonymous, Jan. 23, 2012
- Lawyer gives up $14 million Iowa lottery ticket claim, Jan. 26, 2012
- $14.3 million Hot Lotto prize claim withdrawn, Jan. 27, 2012
- Iowa Legislators satisfied with Lottery's handling of mystery jackpot winner, Feb. 1, 2012
- Iowa Lottery to give away millions from jackpot mystery, Feb. 26, 2012
- Iowa Lottery director: 50-50 that Hot Lotto mystery will be solved, Aug. 9, 2012
- Iowa officials trying to solve lotto mystery, may release surveillance video, Aug. 19, 2012
- MUSL employee arrested in Hot Lotto jackpot mystery, Jan. 15, 2015
- BOMBSHELL: MUSL employee might have rigged Hot Lotto computerized drawing, Apr. 13, 2015
- Texas man charged in Iowa lottery case contests extradition, Apr. 20, 2015
- Extradition trial begins this week in $16.5M Hot Lotto fraud case, Jun. 7, 2015
- Inside the biggest lottery scam ever, Jul. 7, 2015
- Trial underway in world's biggest lottery fraud case, Jul. 14, 2015
- Lottery security chief: Rigging computerized game "sadly" possible, Jul. 15, 2015
- Prosecution rests in Hot Lotto trial, Jul. 16, 2015
- Defense quickly wraps up in Hot Lotto trial, Jul. 16, 2015
- Hot Lotto case moves to jury for deliberations, Jul. 17, 2015
- Former lottery security employee guilty of rigging $14.3M drawing, Jul. 20, 2015
- MUSL security worker who rigged drawing gets 10 years, Sep. 9, 2015
- HOT LOTTO DRAWING CHEAT CHARGED WITH RIGGING MORE JACKPOTS, Oct. 9, 2015
- Texas authorities had previously investigated brother of lottery cheat, Oct. 14, 2015
- Another $1.2M Hot Lotto jackpot rigged by Tipton, officials say, Nov. 21, 2015
- Jackpot-fixing investigation expands to more state lotteries, Dec. 18, 2015
- Prosecutors say Tipton rigged two jackpots he purchased tickets for in Kansas, Dec. 21, 2015
- Maine gives names of Hot Lotto winners to Iowa team looking into rigging scheme, Dec. 23, 2015
- S.C. Lottery assures public no computerized drawings used in state, Dec. 23, 2015
- Kansas lottery players questioning game's integrity, Dec. 23, 2015
- MUSL CHIEF OUSTED OVER JACKPOT-RIGGING SCANDAL, Dec. 23, 2015
- Lottery scandal unlikely to affect New Mexico, official says, Dec. 26, 2015
- Tipton granted delay in next trial until July, Dec. 29, 2015
- Iowa Lottery CEO Terry Rich to answer lottery player questions live Monday evening, Jan. 11, 2016
- First lawsuit in state lottery-fixing scandal seeks millions, Feb. 4, 2016
- MUSL seeks to dismiss lawsuit over rigged jackpot, Apr. 1, 2016
- Lottery scammer's brother facing criminal charges, Apr. 6, 2016
- Investigators find Tipton's software code to rig computerized lottery drawings, Apr. 7, 2016
- Lottery rigging scandal prompts security audit in South Dakota, Apr. 13, 2016
- Preliminary hearing rescheduled for Tommy Tipton in lottery rigging case, Apr. 22, 2016
- Third suspect surrenders in national lottery rigging scandal, Apr. 28, 2016
- Lottery scam investigation comes to Tennessee, May 11, 2016
- Investigators find another friend of Tipton who cashed rigged lottery prize, May 11, 2016
- Convicted computerized drawing fraudster argues Iowa court appeal, Jun. 16, 2016
- US Senate panel demands info in lottery scandal, Jun. 22, 2016
- Lottery rigging trial to be moved out of Des Moines, Jun. 27, 2016
- Eddie Tipton's new trial delayed until 2017, Jul. 1, 2016
- Iowa court reverses part of Tipton's lottery fraud conviction, Jul. 28, 2016
- Internal investigation concludes Tipton acted alone to rig lottery drawings, Aug. 10, 2016
- Prosecutors say 2 more men may be linked to lottery riggings, Aug. 24, 2016
- Judge: winner's lawsuit in lottery-fixing case can continue, Oct. 13, 2016
- Alleged lottery scandal conspirator to enter new plea, Nov. 14, 2016
- Accused lottery rigger Eddie Tipton facing new Wisconsin charges, Dec. 22, 2016
- Man files lawsuit over rigged lottery jackpots, Jan. 4, 2017
- Trials for Tipton brothers charged in lottery scandal delayed, Jan. 8, 2017
- Former MUSL official received severance amid lottery jackpot scandal, Jan. 10, 2017
- Texas man pleads guilty to fraud in lottery scandal case, Jan. 11, 2017
- Iowa Supreme Court hears lottery rigging case, Feb. 14, 2017
- Kansas files lawsuit against accused lottery rigger, Mar. 16, 2017
- Best friend to testify against Tipton at July lottery rigging trial, Mar. 31, 2017
- Mastermind of lottery fraud will explain how he rigged jackpots, Jun. 12, 2017
- FBI missed rigged jackpot in 2006 before lottery scheme grew, Jun. 19, 2017
- The 5 lottery jackpots Tipton and his friends stole, Jun. 20, 2017
- Lottery jackpot rigger's Iowa convictions dismissed, Jun. 23, 2017
- IT'S OFFICIAL: Tipton pleads guilty to rigging computerized lottery drawings, Jun. 29, 2017
- Lottery rigging accomplice used Wisconsin payout for offshore tax scam, Jul. 6, 2017
- Hot Lotto multi-state lottery game to end in October, Aug. 9, 2017