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Minnesota Lottery Director Dies in Apparent Suicide

Jan 27, 2004, 11:52 pm

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Minnesota Lottery

The longtime director of the Minnesota State Lottery apparently committed suicide Tuesday, a day after meeting with legislative auditors examining the lottery's operations, officials said.

George R. Andersen, 53, had a wound that appeared to be from a knife, said Cmdr. Scott Malinosky of the Washington County sheriff's office. He said a note was recovered, but declined to describe it.

Malinosky said authorities were called by Andersen's family about 7 a.m. after they found him outside their home northeast of St. Paul. He was taken to a hospital and pronounced dead.

Legislative Auditor James Nobles said in a statement that he met with Andersen on Monday to discuss a report on the lottery due late next month.

"We had a cordial and productive meeting, and when I left I thought George had handled the meeting well and he seemed in good health," Nobles said.

The audit was meant to look at how the lottery was run as opposed to a review of its accounting. Nobles declined to discuss the content of the audit or elaborate on the meeting.

The audit was requested by state Sen. Ann Rest, who spoke with the auditor about the review Tuesday. She would not provide details, but said it would recommend ways "to improve the performance of the lottery."

Rest said she became concerned last year when the Minnesota Center for Environmental Advocacy studied the lottery and concluded that it costs far more in Minnesota than in comparable states.

In response, lawmakers placed stricter limits on operating expenses, which resulted in 34 layoffs in October.

Gov. Tim Pawlenty said he was not aware of any financial irregularities in the lottery office nor was his administration investigating Andersen.

The governor called Andersen "a tireless advocate for Minnesota." In the 2002 budget year, the lottery contributed more than $43 million to the state's environmental efforts, according to the lottery's Web site.

Andersen, who had been director of the lottery since it began in 1990, was married with two grown children, according to a statement from the lottery.

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