The scandal embroiling the Texas Lottery Commission over inflated jackpot estimates intensified Wednesday when top agency officials acknowledged firing a colleague who only days earlier warned ticket sales would fall short of advertised amounts.
Mike Fernandez, the commission's administrator, called "horrendous" the timing of the dismissal of Lee Deviney, the agency's chief financial officer.
But he denied there was any connection between Deviney's firing and an e-mail Deviney sent his superiors less than two weeks earlier in which he warned of a shortfall and suggested the agency reconsider the procedures it uses to calculate jackpot amounts.
The chairman of the House agency that oversees the Lottery Commission was visibly miffed.
"It seemed like Deviney was the only active member saying, 'We've gone too far,' the only one raising red flags," said Rep. Kino "Kinky" Flores, D-Mission, who heads the House Licensing and Administrative Procedures Committee.
Deviney could not be reached for comment.
Lottery officials have taken a pounding since it was revealed that the $3.5 billion-a-year agency on four occasions, including twice this month, inflated the advertised jackpots amounts by as much as $1.8 million.
On Wednesday, lotto commission Chairman Thomas Clowe testified the agency had deceived and misled the public and vowed to change procedures.
He blamed the deception on the agency's executive director, Reagan Greer, a former Bexar County district clerk. He did not say whether he would seek Greer's resignation.
Another official, Robert Tirloni, a manager, said he and Greer both knew the $8 million advertised grand prize jackpot for the June 11 drawing would fall short about $1.5 million in ticket sales.
Denying he intended to mislead anyone, Greer later called Tirloni "wrong."
He told commissioners he "made a mistake" by relying almost exclusively on staff recommendations.
Last week, Greer told lottery commissioners he approved inflated jackpots to entice more people to play the game at a time when fewer people were playing it.
No one won the jackpot on the four occasions when the jackpot was overstated.
Earlier this week, state Sen. Jane Nelson, R-Lewisville, introduced legislation that would subject the Lottery Commission to deceptive trade laws.
It's not clear if Gov. Rick Perry would allow it to be considered during the 30-day special session.