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Lottery jackpot probe heats up after immunity deal

Hot LottoHot Lotto: Lottery jackpot probe heats up after immunity deal
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IOWA CITY, Iowa — Investigators trying to unravel the mystery behind a bogus claim for a $14.3 million multi-state Hot Lotto jackpot won in Iowa in 2011 have received valuable information from a man in Canada who was granted limited immunity, state officials said Tuesday.

A month ago, investigators traveled to Canada to conduct an interview after reaching an agreement in which a person of interest was promised the information given would not be used against him, Iowa Division of Criminal Investigation assistant director Gerard Meyers said. Since then, investigators have been working to verify the information the person disclosed and locate and interview others who may be involved, he said.

Deputy Iowa Attorney General Thomas H. Miller said the information was "significant, fruitful."

"There are leads, plural, in Houston, Texas," said Miller, who was part of the Canada trip.

The development has injected new life into the investigation, which has baffled authorities for nearly two years.

The case started when lottery officials in December 2010 drew winning numbers for Hot Lotto, a game played in Iowa and several other states. Months passed and no one redeemed the winning ticket, which was purchased at a Des Moines gas station. As the one-year deadline for the prize drew near, Iowa Lottery officials started plotting ways to use the leftover money.

But with hours to go, attorneys representing 76-year-old New York lawyer Crawford Shaw came forward with the valid, winning ticket (which had just been delivered by FedEx to Iowa).

(See Iowa $16.5M Hot Lotto winner claims prize with two hours to spare, Lottery Post, Dec. 29, 2011.)

Shaw signed it on behalf of a newly created investment trust. He later said that he was representing an attorney for a person who purchased the ticket, and that he did not know the winner's name. He said the trust's proceeds would go to a corporation in Belize, a known tax haven.

Lottery officials refused to pay the jackpot until Shaw divulged names of everyone who had possessed the ticket, saying they wanted to know that it had been legally possessed. Shaw refused, eventually withdrawing the claim in January 2012. The winner or winners walked away from millions, and DCI launched an investigation led by agent Matt Anderson.

The focus on leads in Houston may point to associates of Shaw, who has lived and operated businesses there previously.

"We are indeed looking at people other than and in addition to Mr. Shaw," Miller said.

Many theories have been floated about what happened. Perhaps the ticket was stolen after the winner bragged about the jackpot. Maybe the winner did not want to be linked to the money due to illegal activity and tried to sell the ticket to someone else. Or a foreign criminal syndicate bought the winning ticket and illegally scalped it for cash.

Investigators have said that gas station surveillance video shows a person purchasing the ticket, but that footage has been withheld from the public so as not to jeopardize the investigation. Meyers said investigators still do not have a positive identification of the buyer, but that, "We have a potential party that may be able to help us identify that subject."

Meyers said the immunity agreement was appropriate because investigators were certain the man was not the prime suspect and all other efforts to obtain his cooperation had been exhausted. Investigators also had little leverage since he was in another country, he said.

"We had to put forward an agreement that would motivate him to cooperate," Meyers said.

Miller said the so-called use immunity agreement stopped short of guaranteeing the source would never be prosecuted in the case. Instead, the Canadian citizen was promised that whatever information he gave could not be used against him. Prosecutors will later decide whether to make an offer of leniency in exchange for the information, which could include a break when it comes to charges or a free pass from future prosecution.

Such deals are typically extended to lower-level participants in a criminal conspiracy as investigators work their way to the top, Miller said.

Meyers said investigators are seeking to conduct additional interviews with "an array of other parties" who may be involved. But he also cautioned they've had promising leads in the past that hit dead ends.

"The developments are positive," he said. "Yet at the end of the day, we don't have resolution and it continues to be an ongoing investigation."

AP

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8 comments. Last comment 3 years ago by EdG1955.
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zinniagirl's avatar - flower avatar_0026.jpg
nc
United States
Member #99520
October 26, 2010
375 Posts
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Posted: October 9, 2013, 12:03 am - IP Logged

At each turn, more deception!  Now even I am curious as to what was going on.

    noise-gate's avatar - images q=tbn:ANd9GcR91HDs4UJhjxO7cmeMQWZ5lB_FOcMLOGicau4V74R45tDgPWrr
    Bay Area - California
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    Member #136477
    December 12, 2012
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    Posted: October 9, 2013, 12:36 am - IP Logged

    That Attorney left $14 million behind on the table and walked away- l think the public deserves some answers.Who did what, when and why?

      rdgrnr's avatar - walt
      Way back up in them dadgum hills, son!
      United States
      Member #73904
      April 28, 2009
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      Posted: October 9, 2013, 5:15 am - IP Logged

      That Attorney left $14 million behind on the table and walked away- l think the public deserves some answers.Who did what, when and why?

      Beware of the Scribes... which devour widows' houses...

      -Luke 20: 46-47

        dallascowboyfan's avatar - tiana the-princess-and-the-frog.jpg
        Oklahoma
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        November 12, 2009
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        Posted: October 9, 2013, 9:25 am - IP Logged

        This is some serious drama Lurking

        I Love Pink & Green 1908

          Avatar
          NASHVILLE, TENN
          United States
          Member #33372
          February 20, 2006
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          Posted: October 9, 2013, 9:46 am - IP Logged

          Thanks to Iowa for insisting the winner come forward, be photographed, and carry a target on their backs.  Otherwise scams such as this one would be the norm rather than the exception.

            Avatar
            New Member

            United States
            Member #85367
            January 14, 2010
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            Posted: October 9, 2013, 11:36 am - IP Logged

            Thanks to Iowa for insisting the winner come forward, be photographed, and carry a target on their backs.  Otherwise scams such as this one would be the norm rather than the exception.

            I agree.  Many states demand that winners give up their identity to the public.  A public which Contains a CRIMINAL ELEMENT.

            If you bought the ticket with CASH, then you have SOME DEGREE of anonymity, when you LOSE the MONEY, when the draw is made.

            But why is it, the norm to LOSE your PRIVACY RIGHTS when you WIN?

              zinniagirl's avatar - flower avatar_0026.jpg
              nc
              United States
              Member #99520
              October 26, 2010
              375 Posts
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              Posted: October 10, 2013, 9:50 am - IP Logged

              I agree.  Many states demand that winners give up their identity to the public.  A public which Contains a CRIMINAL ELEMENT.

              If you bought the ticket with CASH, then you have SOME DEGREE of anonymity, when you LOSE the MONEY, when the draw is made.

              But why is it, the norm to LOSE your PRIVACY RIGHTS when you WIN?

              By purchasing a ticket, you are agreeing to play by their rules.   Right or wrong, it is their rules.  If you don't agree with the terms, then don't play.

              Odds are likely, that you will never have to make that decision anyway.

                Avatar
                Marana AZ
                United States
                Member #145341
                August 3, 2013
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                Posted: October 10, 2013, 8:29 pm - IP Logged

                I don't see how the words bogus or scam apply to this, at least as regards to the lottery. It was a legitimate winning ticket. Iowa would have withheld state income tax plus Federal income tax. There may have been fraud as to sharing the proceeds with a spouse or lottery pool but that in no way makes the ticket bogus or the claim a scam, only the distribution of the proceeds.