The case against Eddie Tipton, a lottery programmer/security offices who was charged with using his inside knowledge to win rigged lottery games across the US has finally pleaded guilty to fixing a 2007 jackpot in Wisconsin.
In the biggest lottery scandal to rock the industry, the Multi-State Lottery Association is finally relieved to hear that Eddie Tipton has pleaded guilty at last, and will now speak to lottery officials and investigators to confirm just how he and his two co-accused managed to defraud them out of substantial rigged lotto wins for so many years.
On Monday, Eddie Tipton entered the guilty plea to one count of theft and one count of a computer crime in a courtroom in Madison. Since his arrest in 2015 he kept insisting on his innocence, but all that has no changed and he will be sentenced on Sept. 21. He faces up to 25 years in prison after pleading guilty to rigging lottery jackpots in Iowa and four other states in the USA.
In the Polk County Courthouse in Des Moines, Iowa, Tipton only spoke to say that he understood that he was waiving his right to a trail, when the Dane County Circuit Judge Ellen Berz questioned him.
Later this month though, Tipton will also face additional charges in Iowa, and according to Wisconsin Assistant Attorney General David Maas, Tipton plans to enter a plea in that state later this month.
For online lottery players who have not been following the case, the story began in 2015, when he was still working as a programmer/security director for the Multi-State Lottery Association. Part of his job was to write security code for software that picked random numbers for games sold by member lotteries.
According to investigators, Tipton designed his software so that he could predict the winning lottery numbers on three days of the year.
Tipton didn’t act alone. His best friend, Robert Rhodes and his brother, a former Texas Judge Tommy Tipton were also in on the lottery scam. It was there job to buy lottery tickets for the predicted draws. The trio would then split the jackpot wins between them.
The wins go back to 2005, with millions being won up until 2011 in Colorado, Wisconsin, Iowa, Kansas and Oklahoma.
In 2010 the whole lot scam came crumbling down when Tipton was caught on surveillance video buying a winning $16 million Hot Lotto ticket in Iowa. It was only due to the fact that someone else had come forward a year later to claim the win that the surveillance video was checked to try and identify the correct winner.
The winning lotto code
Another break came in the case when investigators were able to recover an old computer that was used for the drawing, which still had Tipton’s code in it. It was this same code that was later discovered on lottery computers in Indiana and Arkansas but apparently hadn't been used in those states.
Immediately after Tipton’s arrest, the Multi-State Lottery Association fired him. The association and state lotteries say they have taken a number of steps to prevent insider fraud in the future. All this however doesn’t help the fact that the association is being faced with two lawsuits by lottery players that claim that they were cheated out of their winnings by Tipton’s rigging. A full investigation is still under way.
Des Moines attorney Nicholas Mauro, who's representing plaintiffs in two cases said, "We're glad he's decided to take responsibility for his actions and we hope the Multi-State Lottery Association follows suit."
Rhodes, one of Tipton’s accomplice’s in the lottery scam, told investigators in detail how the scheme worked for a $783,000 Megabucks jackpot they won on Dec. 29, 2007.
He told investigators that he met Tipton at his Iowa home in December 2007, where Tipton gave him index cards containing a series of numbers for him to play for the upcoming drawing. Rhodes drove to Wisconsin in a rental car, buying tickets from various stores in the southwestern part of the state, before driving back to Iowa and returning to Texas. Rhodes then used a limited liability company to claim the prize in Wisconsin.
He pleaded guilty earlier this year and pledged to testify against Tipton. He was recently sentenced to six months home confinement. It due to him pleading guilty and giving further evidence that Tipton decided to eventually plead guilty. It’s believed his brother would be sentenced to 75 days in jail and ordered to pay more than $800,000 in restitution.
Terry Rich, CEO of the Iowa Lottery said: “I’m glad that he decided to put this in the past, for all of us.” He added that, “It was a heck of a case and we’re glad where we are at today, but we still have a few proceedings to go until we put it all to bed.”
Tipton will pay more than $2.2m in restitution to lotteries in Iowa, Wisconsin, Colorado, Kansas, and Oklahoma. The state of Colorado has now agreed to drop its charges against Tipton who has made a rare ‘multi-state’ plea deal.
Tommy Tipton is expected to serve his jail sentence in Edwards County, Texas, according to the plea agreement.
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