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Prosecutors say 2 more men may be linked to lottery riggings

Insider BuzzInsider Buzz: Prosecutors say 2 more men may be linked to lottery riggings
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Prosecutors in the case of a former lottery insider convicted last year in a national Hot Lotto jackpot-rigging scandal are seeking to subpoena records from two attorneys they believe could be tied to the plot.

Documents filed on Tuesday by the lead prosecutor in the case, Assistant Iowa Attorney General Rob Sand, seek to subpoena records from Texas attorneys J. Thad Whisenant and Luis Vallejo.

Authorities assert that immediately after investigators attempted to interview Whisenant about the case, he contacted Vallejo, who prosecutors said in the court filing is connected through phone records to one of the men indicted in the scheme.

All three men, Sand contends in the new court filings, are financially connected. He is seeking the bank records of Whisenant and Vallejo, and Vallejo's phone records. Whisenant and Vallejo did not immediately respond to phone and email requests Wednesday morning for comment on the new filings.

State lotteries are a $70 billion industry in America, providing reliable revenues to dozens of U.S. states to pay for schools and other public projects.

Yet, like the stock market, the entire U.S. lottery system is built on confidence: the belief among millions of Americans that despite astronomical odds there really is a chance for them to win the big one.

Lottery IT Director Sought $14.3 Million Jackpot

In 2015, Eddie Tipton, the former information technology security director for the Multi-State Lottery Association, was convicted of two counts of fraud for rigging a 2010 computerized Hot Lotto game in an attempt to win a $14.3 million jackpot in Iowa, which lottery officials have described as one of the largest Hot Lotto jackpots ever claimed.

Prosecutors said he injected a stealth software program into the lottery's central computer to generate pre-selected numbers that he then used to try and cash in the winning ticket.

Tipton's attorney has argued that his conviction was based circumstantial evidence, and that authorities have never proven that his client actually injected the self-deleting software program.

Tipton appealed his conviction and his subsequent ten year prison sentence, and earlier this year, an Iowa appeals court reversed part of the fraud convictions.

The higher court upheld the conviction for rigging the lottery but dismissed a second fraud conviction related to Tipton's attempt to cash in the winning ticket.

Earlier this month, lottery officials said that an internal investigation had determined that no other MUSL employees were involved in the Tipton plot.

But since Tipton's trial and conviction, prosecutors have tied several other men, none of them lottery employees, to the alleged plot.

'An Invasion of Trust'

Tipton's primary job as IT director was to safeguard the sanctity of the games and make sure nobody cheated.

"This is about as large an invasion of trust as I can possibly imagine," the judge in the case told Tipton before issuing the sentence.

The massive jackpot was withheld by lottery officials when they became suspicious after multiple representatives tried to cash in the ticket on behalf a mystery client, and an investigation was launched.

After convenience store video of a man purchasing hot dogs and what was later determined to be the winning ticket lottery ticket was publicly released last year, one of Tipton's co-workers called authorities to claim that the man in the video is Tipton.

Last fall, after new evidence emerged indicating that Tipton may have been involved in rigging lottery games in five more states, authorities charged him with ongoing criminal conduct. The probe expanded nationwide to include all 37 states that rely on MUSL for their randomly-generated lottery numbers.

Tipton's younger brother Tommy, and a second man, Robert C. Rhodes II, have been indicted for allegedly taking part in the scheme.

Tuesday's subpoena requests assert that Whisenant, Vallejo and Tommy Tipton "appear to be financially involved."

The increasingly bizarre case has featured court filings allegedly tying three of the men under investigation to the Gulf Coast Bigfoot Research Organization, which searches for the possibly-mythical creature in southern U.S. states, and testimony from his brother that Eddie Tipton could not be the man in the video because, he said, "Eddie's not a hot dog guy."

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.

2011

2012

2013

2014

2015

2016

NBC, Lottery Post Staff

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6 comments. Last comment 3 months ago by DELotteryPlyr.
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LiveInGreenBay's avatar - driver
Green Bay
United States
Member #169391
October 15, 2015
1239 Posts
Offline
Posted: August 24, 2016, 6:36 pm - IP Logged

I know they can recover fingerprints from paper.  Did they try to find Tipton's fingerprints anywhere on that lottery ticket?

Never give up.  Banana

    LottoMetro's avatar - Lottery-024.jpg
    Happyland
    United States
    Member #146344
    September 1, 2013
    1129 Posts
    Offline
    Posted: August 24, 2016, 7:36 pm - IP Logged

    "Gulf Coast Bigfoot Research Organization"

    It's amazing that this link was uncovered with such an inconspicuously named company. I never would have caught it.

    If the chances of winning the jackpot are so slim, why play when the jackpot is so small? Your chances never change, but the potential payoff does.
    If a crystal ball showed you the future of the rest of your life, and in that future you will never win a jackpot, would you still play?

    2016: -48.28% (13 tickets) ||
    P&L % = Total Win($)/Total Wager($) - 1

      Avatar
      Marana AZ
      United States
      Member #145341
      August 3, 2013
      178 Posts
      Offline
      Posted: August 24, 2016, 7:51 pm - IP Logged

      "Gulf Coast Bigfoot Research Organization"

      It's amazing that this link was uncovered with such an inconspicuously named company. I never would have caught it.

      Bigfoot was the real winner but he doesn't want to blow his anonymity by coming forward publicly to claim the prize.

        music*'s avatar - nw bookeep.jpg
        Happy California
        United States
        Member #157856
        August 2, 2014
        1507 Posts
        Offline
        Posted: August 24, 2016, 8:39 pm - IP Logged

        Bigfoot was the real winner but he doesn't want to blow his anonymity by coming forward publicly to claim the prize.

        Green laughI Agree!

         I've been rich and I've been poor. Believe me, rich is better. 

         Attributed to Joe E. Lewis and others

          HaveABall's avatar - rocket

          United States
          Member #72448
          March 18, 2009
          1227 Posts
          Offline
          Posted: August 25, 2016, 12:28 am - IP Logged

          Bigfoot was the real winner but he doesn't want to blow his anonymity by coming forward publicly to claim the prize.

          I Agree!, EdG1955 Bat

          Having several millions of dollars in my financial accounts means receiving several valuable services each day!

          Disney

            Avatar
            Maryland
            United States
            Member #162434
            January 2, 2015
            887 Posts
            Offline
            Posted: August 27, 2016, 6:43 pm - IP Logged

            This could get interesting, if one of these guys 'flips' on Tipton and blows him in.  That would be cool!