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Colorado Lottery gift scandal continues

Jun 4, 2004, 7:57 am

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Colorado Lottery

The upheaval in the Colorado lottery office over gifts just won't go away.

The latest controversy involves warning letters sent to 13 lottery employees charging that they didn't, as required, report gifts given to them by vendors.

Michael Cooke, director of the Colorado Department of Revenue, which oversees the state lottery, said the Colorado Bureau of Investigation cross-checked records provided by vendors regarding gifts they had given lottery employees against the gift reports employees filed with the state.

The gifts were from 2003 and earlier.

Thirteen employees were sent letters earlier this year about discrepancies involving from one to five gifts each, and they met with lottery director Peggy Gordon, Cooke said.

Several employees told Gordon the information was faulty, Cooke said.

An anonymous letter to the media and investigators claimed that all 13 letters contained some inaccuracies, such as employees being out of town when they supposedly received the gifts from the vendors.

Cooke said she and other department officials don't know which records - the employees' or the vendors' - are correct.

As a result, Gordon sent a second letter to the 13 on May 10 saying the warning letters would not be put in their personnel files, Cooke said.

"We're certainly giving the employees the benefit of the doubt in every case," she said.

Now entirely banned, gifts to lottery employees ranging from candy dishes to rounds of golf and meals have been at the center of the controversy since last year.

The CBI and Arapahoe County District Attorney's Office seized computers in lottery offices as part of an investigation into the matter.

A decision on whether criminal charges are warranted has not been made, said Michael Knight, spokesman for the Arapahoe County district attorney.

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