Seven charged so far, more on the way
A Manchester man who formerly worked at a local convenience store has become the seventh person statewide to be accused of manipulating Connecticut Lottery terminals to produce unusually large numbers of winning tickets in a now-suspended lottery game.
The man, Shaifur Rahman, 21, who lives in an apartment at 40 Channing Drive in Manchester, was charged Thursday with first-degree computer crime; a crime known as "rigging;" and aiding or encouraging the commission of a first-degree larceny.
State law defines rigging to include tampering with anything to "prevent a publicly exhibited sporting or other contest from being conducted in accordance with the rules and usages purporting to govern it." The crime is punishable by up to five years in prison, while first-degree larceny and first-degree computer crime each carry up to 20 years behind bars.
Rahman was arraigned Thursday in Manchester Superior Court and released after a person who lives at the same address posted 10 percent of his $75,000 bond in cash, a method of posting the bond that Judge Laura F. Baldini had approved in advance.
Rahman is accused of manipulating the lottery terminal at the Super Convenience Store at 469 Hartford Road in Manchester, where he formerly worked, according to an affidavit by Inspector Kevin McGuire of the state Consumer Protection Department's gaming division.
McGuire's affidavit makes clear that at least one other person, the store's former manager, also is suspected of involvement in the lottery terminal manipulation, although he hasn't been charged yet.
The man turned in his lottery license Dec. 1 and no longer manages the store, the inspector reported.
McGuire's affidavit recites considerable evidence that the lottery terminal at the Super Convenience Store was manipulated to produce unusual numbers of winning tickets in 5 Card Cash, a poker-like game that offered players the opportunity to win instantly and through a daily drawing.
But the only evidence the inspector cites implicating Rahman is the statement of a former employee of the store who reported the following:
- One day, he saw a fellow employee he knew as Shaifur punching random keys into the lottery terminal with no customers present and generating 5 Card Cash tickets.
- The witness reported what he saw to the store's then-manager, but the activity continued. He subsequently saw the manager doing the same thing.
- The witness sometimes saw both men in the store after hours running off lottery tickets.
- The witness finally confronted both men, telling them they would get in trouble, but they replied that they wouldn't get caught.
The inspector said he interviewed Rahman while Rahman was taking a break from his job in Hartford and that Rahman "vehemently denied any involvement in manipulating the 5 Card Cash game."
24 winners in a row
Officials calculated that tickets sold at the Super Convenience Store during the life of the 5 Card Cash game, from May 2014 to November 2015, produced $309,744 more in winnings than would have been expected without manipulation of the terminal.
On the morning of Oct. 5, the inspector reported, the store's lottery terminal generated 24 consecutive winning 5 Card Cash tickets. He reported that a lottery official had calculated the probability of drawing six winning tickets in succession as 1 in 5,395.
Lottery data also verified that the store's terminal was used to produce 5 Card Cash tickets when the store was supposed to be closed. On Nov.1 — a Sunday when the store was supposed to close at 5 p.m., according to the hours of operation it had filed with the lottery — its terminal produced 85 tickets for the game between 7:14 p.m. and 8:31 p.m., with 78 winners, the inspector reported.
There is evidence of widespread manipulation of the 5 Card Cash game at stores across Connecticut, court records show.