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Texas man charged in Iowa lottery case contests extradition

Hot LottoHot Lotto: Texas man charged in Iowa lottery case contests extradition
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IOWA CITY — A Texas businessman accused of helping a lottery security official to try to claim a rigged $14 million jackpot is out of jail while he fights extradition to Iowa.

Robert Rhodes, 46, of Sugar Land, Texas, left a county jail after posting bond April 9, three weeks after his arrest on two counts of fraud, court records show. He's expected to contest his extradition to Iowa during a May 7 hearing and is under electronic monitoring in the meantime.

Rhodes is denying charges that he worked with a friend, 52-year-old Eddie Tipton of Norwalk, to try to claim a fixed Hot Lotto jackpot. Tipton was director of security for the Multi-State Lottery Association, an Iowa-based group that operates Powerball, Hot Lotto and other games for state lotteries.

Prosecutors theorize that Tipton in November 2010 inserted a malicious software program into a computer that ran the random number generator for Hot Lotto, allowing him to manipulate the winning combination for the jackpot. Investigators say he requested numbers that would become the winners when he purchased tickets at a Des Moines area gas station the following month — using a rental car that he then drove to his home state of Texas. The odds of winning a Hot Lotto jackpot are one in 29 million.

Tipton faces two counts of fraud but has denied the allegations and said he didn't buy the ticket.

Citing phone records, investigators said Tipton and Rhodes had "frequent, lengthy calls" and spoke for over an hour the day of the purchase. They said Rhodes, who had employed Tipton at his now-defunct Houston information technology company from 1996 to 2003, later joined others in Houston, New York and Canada in unsuccessful attempts to obtain the payout while hiding the identity of the winner.

Investigators said Rhodes and a business associate, Houston attorney Robert Sonfield, directed two different tries to claim the prize after receiving the ticket from Tipton. Sonfield, who hasn't been charged, declined comment.

Rhodes and Sonfield eventually sought help from another associate, Canadian lawyer Phillip Johnston, investigators said. Johnston tried to claim the ticket in November 2011, telling Iowa Lottery officials the correct security code on the back. But the lottery refused to pay Johnston's claim because of discrepancies in his account of the purchase. Johnston later said he wasn't the winner but was representing an anonymous party who was.

The ticket then went to another Sonfield associate, New York attorney Crawford Shaw, who tried to claim the prize hours before the one-year deadline in December 2011. Shaw said he was representing a trust for a winner who wanted to remain anonymous. Iowa Lottery officials refused to pay after Shaw couldn't explain who bought the ticket. State agents launched a criminal investigation.

Johnston and Shaw eventually told investigators they completed the paperwork to claim the prize at the direction of Sonfield and Rhodes.

But Sonfield and Rhodes weren't cooperating, and agents didn't know who bought the ticket before it was passed down the chain. Finally last fall, they released surveillance video of the purchase. Acquaintances told investigators they believed the hooded man buying tickets using slips in which he selected the numbers was Tipton, who was barred by law from playing the lottery as a vendor. The lottery association fired Tipton, a 12-year employee who was promoted to security director in 2013, after his January arrest.

Texas authorities arrested Rhodes on an Iowa warrant last month. He was initially jailed on a $500,000 bond after investigators called him a flight risk, saying he'd repeatedly avoided them. But a judge agreed last week to reduce bond to $10,000 at the request of Rhodes' attorneys, who said the father of three had deep roots in Texas and no prior record.

Tipton's trial, initially scheduled for this week, was delayed until July.

An attorney for Rhodes argued in a recent filing that his client wasn't involved in trying to claim the ticket and "extradition is improper." Rhodes didn't return phone messages.

Des Moines Register

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16 comments. Last comment 2 years ago by VenomV12.
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mypiemaster's avatar - 2015021003pileofcash
JACKPOT HUNTER

United States
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April 2, 2013
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Posted: April 20, 2015, 8:54 am - IP Logged

What are you afraid of?. Just take your ass down there and let the chips fall where they may.

Seek and ye shall find -Matt. 7:7 ...Ask and ye shall receive -John 16:24 ...Give and it shall be given unto you -Luke 6:38 ...Be careful what you ask for!!! -Mypiemaster 1:1

Having Money Solves Problems That Not Having Money Creates Yes Nod ****John Carlton****

    rcbbuckeye's avatar - Lottery-043.jpg
    Texas
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    October 23, 2007
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    Posted: April 20, 2015, 9:06 am - IP Logged

    What are you afraid of?. Just take your ass down there and let the chips fall where they may.

    If he goes to Iowa, he's afraid of where those chips may fall.

    Who would have thought this would all go down like this when it first started.

    CAN'T WIN IF YOU'RE NOT IN

    A DOLLAR AND A DREAM (OR $2)

      Raven62's avatar - binary
      New Jersey
      United States
      Member #17843
      June 28, 2005
      49637 Posts
      Online
      Posted: April 20, 2015, 9:16 am - IP Logged

      Attn: Lottery Directors: Say No To RNG Drawings!

      A mind once stretched by a new idea never returns to its original dimensions!

        ThatScaryChick's avatar - x1MqPuM
        Idaho
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        November 21, 2007
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        Posted: April 20, 2015, 9:31 am - IP Logged

        I don't believe for one moment that Rhodes wasn't aware of what was going on. I think he was in on the plan to rig the drawing from the beginning. I hope he gets extradited and I hope this gets Hot Lotto to finally use ball drawings.

        "No one remembers the person who almost climbed the mountain, only the person who eventually gets to the top."

          rcbbuckeye's avatar - Lottery-043.jpg
          Texas
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          October 23, 2007
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          Posted: April 20, 2015, 10:12 am - IP Logged

          I don't believe for one moment that Rhodes wasn't aware of what was going on. I think he was in on the plan to rig the drawing from the beginning. I hope he gets extradited and I hope this gets Hot Lotto to finally use ball drawings.

          I never understood why MUSL would have ball drawings for PB and MM, but RNG for Hot Lotto. That doesn't make sense.

          CAN'T WIN IF YOU'RE NOT IN

          A DOLLAR AND A DREAM (OR $2)

            RJOh's avatar - chipmunk
            mid-Ohio
            United States
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            March 24, 2001
            19816 Posts
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            Posted: April 20, 2015, 1:51 pm - IP Logged

            I never understood why MUSL would have ball drawings for PB and MM, but RNG for Hot Lotto. That doesn't make sense.

            I doubt if 40 states could be convinced to join a multi-state game that used a RNG and took 32% of their sales money for the jackpots.

             * you don't need to buy more tickets, just buy a winning ticket * 
               
                         Evil Looking       

              Avatar
              Seattle, Washington
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              January 3, 2012
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              Posted: April 20, 2015, 2:51 pm - IP Logged

              Usually, extradition fights are between countries.  I guess this Texas genius must think Texas is a country all to it's own.  Good luck with that fight, moron; you don't have a leg to stand on.  And good luck with your Iowa troubles; you're headed to the grey bar hotel...

                Original Bey's avatar - Lottery-022.jpg

                Bahamas
                Member #133462
                September 30, 2012
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                Posted: April 20, 2015, 3:02 pm - IP Logged

                Usually, extradition fights are between countries.  I guess this Texas genius must think Texas is a country all to it's own.  Good luck with that fight, moron; you don't have a leg to stand on.  And good luck with your Iowa troubles; you're headed to the grey bar hotel...

                This happens more than you might realize. Especially when crooks employ high priced attorneys that argue under a particular state's legislation evidence collected would be insufficient to secure an indictment. At the end of the day, he's toast!

                "Everything works  ONCE!"

                  maringoman's avatar - images q=tbn:ANd9GcTbRxpKQmOfcCoUqF2FyqIOAwDo7rg9G-lfJLAALPGWJWwiz19eRw
                  Massachusetts
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                  April 14, 2006
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                  Posted: April 20, 2015, 5:20 pm - IP Logged

                  What happens once happens twice. Someone else WILL rig the MUSL RNG, if they haven't already.

                  That money's gone fo ever

                    Avatar
                    NY
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                    October 16, 2005
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                    Posted: April 20, 2015, 5:20 pm - IP Logged

                    "Just take your ass down there and let the chips fall where they may."

                    Innocent or guilty, only a moron would willingly risk a trial if they can simply avoid it. It can cost thousands and thousands of dollars to be found not guilty.

                    "Usually, extradition fights are between countries."

                    Extradition is between jurisdictions. Iowa has no jurisdiction over people who aren't in Iowa. The constitutional authority for a state to demand extradition says "A Person charged in any State with Treason, Felony, or other Crime, who shall flee from Justice, and be found in another State ..." In this case the accused appears to have not been in Iowa, hasn't fled from justice, and therefore isn't a fugitive. Not being a fugitive is one of the reasons that a state can refuse to comply with a request for extradition.

                    Since this guy wasn't in Iowa his attorney will have a pretty good argument that he couldn't have committed a crime in Iowa. He may have broken a Texas law against conspiring to commit a crime, and he may have broken federal laws, but Iowa has no jurisdiction over that. Unless there are recordings of the phone calls I'm guessing the only evidence that  Iowa can have would be what one defendant says about another in hopes of getting a reduced sentence.

                      Avatar
                      Kentucky
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                      February 14, 2006
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                      Posted: April 20, 2015, 5:56 pm - IP Logged

                      This happens more than you might realize. Especially when crooks employ high priced attorneys that argue under a particular state's legislation evidence collected would be insufficient to secure an indictment. At the end of the day, he's toast!

                      Prosecutors theorize that Tipton in November 2010 inserted a malicious software program into a computer that ran the random number generator for Hot Lotto, allowing him to manipulate the winning combination for the jackpot.

                      It didn't take much evidence to get a Grand Jury indictment for fraud against Tipton because they have video of him buying the ticket, but they might need more than a theory to convince a Texas court Rhodes was involved. They have phone records proving Tipton spoke to Rhodes, but without the conversation it proves nothing. And don't forget the Canadian lawyer.

                      Another problem is by proving Tipton (with or without Rhodes help) rigged the drawing, the Iowa Lottery is proving they held a rigged drawing. The other Hot Lotto states should demand the drawing be moved to secure location.

                        spartan1707's avatar - Lottery-050.jpg
                        Tucson
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                        December 2, 2011
                        81 Posts
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                        Posted: April 20, 2015, 7:05 pm - IP Logged

                        The <snip>ing thing is the Lottery says he used a program....how did he get in the room,plant said program,wait forever to play,They say they run test drawings before each drawing to ensure it's legit. So If it was me I'd like to have them show in court how I did it and you had drawings for weeks on end saying you tested the system. Then ask why certain numbers fail to draw. Just saying.

                        This post has been automatically changed by the Lottery Post computer system to remove inappropriate content and/or spam.

                          Lynn-Lynn's avatar - yocco
                          Kansas city Mo
                          United States
                          Member #133405
                          September 29, 2012
                          49 Posts
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                          Posted: April 20, 2015, 7:14 pm - IP Logged

                          Wow.jail time. Lottery not playing

                            mypiemaster's avatar - 2015021003pileofcash
                            JACKPOT HUNTER

                            United States
                            Member #141034
                            April 2, 2013
                            1408 Posts
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                            Posted: April 20, 2015, 8:36 pm - IP Logged

                            "Just take your ass down there and let the chips fall where they may."

                            Innocent or guilty, only a moron would willingly risk a trial if they can simply avoid it. It can cost thousands and thousands of dollars to be found not guilty.

                            "Usually, extradition fights are between countries."

                            Extradition is between jurisdictions. Iowa has no jurisdiction over people who aren't in Iowa. The constitutional authority for a state to demand extradition says "A Person charged in any State with Treason, Felony, or other Crime, who shall flee from Justice, and be found in another State ..." In this case the accused appears to have not been in Iowa, hasn't fled from justice, and therefore isn't a fugitive. Not being a fugitive is one of the reasons that a state can refuse to comply with a request for extradition.

                            Since this guy wasn't in Iowa his attorney will have a pretty good argument that he couldn't have committed a crime in Iowa. He may have broken a Texas law against conspiring to commit a crime, and he may have broken federal laws, but Iowa has no jurisdiction over that. Unless there are recordings of the phone calls I'm guessing the only evidence that  Iowa can have would be what one defendant says about another in hopes of getting a reduced sentence.

                            It makes you even a bigger MORON to think you can get involved with such nefarious activities and not be held accountable.

                            Seek and ye shall find -Matt. 7:7 ...Ask and ye shall receive -John 16:24 ...Give and it shall be given unto you -Luke 6:38 ...Be careful what you ask for!!! -Mypiemaster 1:1

                            Having Money Solves Problems That Not Having Money Creates Yes Nod ****John Carlton****