The attorney for a former lottery official accused of fixing jackpots in several states argued Thursday that his client's conviction last year on fraud charges should be thrown out.
Eddie Tipton, the former Multi-State Lottery Association computer security director, appealed his July 2015 convictions related to fixing an Iowa Hot Lotto game in 2010, which resulted in a 10-year prison sentence. He is free on bond during the appeal.
Tipton's attorney, Dean Stowers, told a three-judge Iowa Court of Appeals panel that evidence at Tipton's trial was not sufficient to support the convictions.
Iowa prosecutors have said Tipton bought a Hot Lotto ticket in December 2010 with the same numbers that he had programmed into the lottery computer a month earlier. They said he then gave the ticket to a friend in Texas who prosecutors say reached out to attorneys in Canada and Texas to try and cash it in without divulging the name of the original ticket buyer.
Since Iowa law requires jackpot winners to be identified, the $16.5 million jackpot was never paid.
The court did not provide a timeline for when it might rule.
Tipton, 53, had been working for the Urbandale, Iowa-based Multi-State Lottery Association since 2003 and was promoted to computer information security director in 2013. The nonprofit association is operated by 37 mostly state-run lotteries to oversee picking numbers for various games and other lottery game administrative functions.
As an employee, Tipton was prohibited from playing the lottery in Iowa; he was fired after his January 2015 arrest.
"The problem in this case kind of starts with the fact that there's a total lack of evidence to support any of these theories," Stowers argued, pointing specifically to what he said is a lack of evidence to show Tipton had changed the computer number-picking program or had any connection with the people who tried to cash in the lottery ticket.
Assistant Iowa Attorney General Louis Sloven said Thursday that plenty of evidence was presented showing Tipton bought the winning lottery ticket and made deliberate efforts to conceal his identity and construct an alibi. Sloven said it's significant that Tipton lied to FBI investigators about knowing his friend in Texas and told them he was not in the Des Moines area when the ticket was bought although cellphone records show he was.
Tipton's lawyer also argued for overturning the conviction because prosecutors waited more than four years to file charges, outside the three-year statute of limitations. He said the clock started ticking in December 2011, when officials knew something was unusual with the Hot Lotto ticket, though Sloven argued it wouldn't have begun until October 2014, when investigators released the video of the ticket purchase and people recognized Tipton.
Tipton faces a second trial in Iowa on ongoing criminal conduct and money laundering charges alleging he manipulated computers to fix lottery games in Colorado, Kansas,Oklahoma and Wisconsin, and then worked with others to cash the tickets. A previously set July trial date has been delayed and a new date not yet scheduled.
Timeline of the biggest crime in US lottery history
The following is a compilation of Lottery Post news coverage chronicling the Hot Lotto mystery and subsequently discovered crime.
We start the timeline with a news story indicating that only 3 months remained for the $16 million Hot Lotto jackpot to be claimed.
- Deadline for claiming $16.5M Hot Lotto jackpot nears, Sep. 21, 2011
- Unclaimed Iowa lottery jackpot to expire Dec. 29, Dec. 1, 2011
- Iowa $16.5M Hot Lotto winner claims prize with two hours to spare, Dec. 29, 2011
- Iowa Lottery security chief bent on determining identity of jackpot winner, Jan. 10, 2012
- NY lawyer in lottery mystery travels to Iowa this week, Jan. 17, 2012
- Iowa Lottery security chief to grill NY lawyer over Hot Lotto ticket, Jan. 17, 2012
- Representative of Hot Lotto winner named in lawsuit, Jan. 20, 2012
- Hot Lotto trust representative won't name winner, Jan. 20, 2012
- Iowa Lottery threatens to deny jackpot payout if winner stays anonymous, Jan. 23, 2012
- Lawyer gives up $14 million Iowa lottery ticket claim, Jan. 26, 2012
- $14.3 million Hot Lotto prize claim withdrawn, Jan. 27, 2012
- Iowa Legislators satisfied with Lottery's handling of mystery jackpot winner, Feb. 1, 2012
- Iowa Lottery to give away millions from jackpot mystery, Feb. 26, 2012
- Iowa Lottery director: 50-50 that Hot Lotto mystery will be solved, Aug. 9, 2012
- Iowa officials trying to solve lotto mystery, may release surveillance video, Aug. 19, 2012
- 1 year later, Iowa Lottery still hunting for suspicious no-show winner, Jan. 30, 2013
- Inquiry in Iowa Lottery mystery touches Canada, Jul. 26, 2013
- Lottery jackpot probe heats up after immunity deal, Oct. 8, 2013
- Iowa Lottery still hunting mystery Hot Lotto winner [video], Oct. 10, 2014
- MUSL employee arrested in Hot Lotto jackpot mystery, Jan. 15, 2015
- BOMBSHELL: MUSL employee might have rigged Hot Lotto computerized drawing, Apr. 13, 2015
- Texas man charged in Iowa lottery case contests extradition, Apr. 20, 2015
- Extradition trial begins this week in $16.5M Hot Lotto fraud case, Jun. 7, 2015
- Inside the biggest lottery scam ever, Jul. 7, 2015
- Trial underway in world's biggest lottery fraud case, Jul. 14, 2015
- Lottery security chief: Rigging computerized game "sadly" possible, Jul. 15, 2015
- Prosecution rests in Hot Lotto trial, Jul. 16, 2015
- Defense quickly wraps up in Hot Lotto trial, Jul. 16, 2015
- Hot Lotto case moves to jury for deliberations, Jul. 17, 2015
- Former lottery security employee guilty of rigging $14.3M drawing, Jul. 20, 2015
- MUSL security worker who rigged drawing gets 10 years, Sep. 9, 2015
- HOT LOTTO DRAWING CHEAT CHARGED WITH RIGGING MORE JACKPOTS, Oct. 9, 2015
- Texas authorities had previously investigated brother of lottery cheat, Oct. 14, 2015
- Another $1.2M Hot Lotto jackpot rigged by Tipton, officials say, Nov. 21, 2015
- Jackpot-fixing investigation expands to more state lotteries, Dec. 18, 2015
- Prosecutors say Tipton rigged two jackpots he purchased tickets for in Kansas, Dec. 21, 2015
- Maine gives names of Hot Lotto winners to Iowa team looking into rigging scheme, Dec. 23, 2015
- S.C. Lottery assures public no computerized drawings used in state, Dec. 23, 2015
- Kansas lottery players questioning game's integrity, Dec. 23, 2015
- MUSL CHIEF OUSTED OVER JACKPOT-RIGGING SCANDAL, Dec. 23, 2015
- Lottery scandal unlikely to affect New Mexico, official says, Dec. 26, 2015
- Tipton granted delay in next trial until July, Dec. 29, 2015
- Iowa Lottery CEO Terry Rich to answer lottery player questions live Monday evening, Jan. 11, 2016
- First lawsuit in state lottery-fixing scandal seeks millions, Feb. 4, 2016
- MUSL seeks to dismiss lawsuit over rigged jackpot, Apr. 1, 2016
- Lottery scammer's brother facing criminal charges, Apr. 6, 2016
- Investigators find Tipton's software code to rig computerized lottery drawings, Apr. 7, 2016
- Lottery rigging scandal prompts security audit in South Dakota, Apr. 13, 2016
- Preliminary hearing rescheduled for Tommy Tipton in lottery rigging case, Apr. 22, 2016
- Third suspect surrenders in national lottery rigging scandal, Apr. 28, 2016
- Lottery scam investigation comes to Tennessee, May 11, 2016
- Investigators find another friend of Tipton who cashed rigged lottery prize, May 11, 2016