Authorities in Iowa have filed charges against the brother of a former lottery security director after uncovering new evidence of their plot to fix lottery jackpots.
On Wednesday, Iowa prosecutors filed felony charges of ongoing criminal conduct against Tommy Tipton (pictured), the younger brother of Eddie Tipton, the former security director of the Multi-State Lottery Association (MUSL). Tommy Tipton surrendered to authorities on Wednesday and was later released on a $25k bond.
The elder Tipton was convicted last year on two counts of fraud for rigging lottery drawings to produce a set of pre-programmed winning numbers. Tipton was found to have installed a ‘rootkit’ device on the MUSL’s random number generator that led to specific sets of numbers being generated for specific drawings.
Prosecutors had long suspected that Tommy Tipton, who was a justice of the peace in Texas until he abruptly resigned last year, was involved in the scam, given that he’d won a couple of lottery jackpots in Colorado and Oklahoma worth $1.2m. On each occasion, Tommy recruited a friend to claim the prize in exchange for a cut of the winnings.
Prosecutors now say they’ve been able to reverse engineer the computer code Eddie Tipton installed on the Wisconsin lottery’s random number generator. Using this code, Iowa Criminal Division of Investigation agent Don Smith said the authorities were able to recreate the draws, generating the same numbers that led to the Tipton jackpots.
Smith claims that the system was rigged to produce specific sets of numbers on three specific days of the year if two other conditions were met. Two of these dates were Nov. 23 and Dec. 29, on which Eddie Tipton’s six winning prizes were drawn between 2005 and 2011.
The scam began to unravel in 2011, when a $16.5m Hot Lotto jackpot went unclaimed for nearly a year, until a lawyer showed up, claiming to represent the winners, who wished to remain anonymous. After failing to convince Iowa Lottery officials to hand over the dough, the lawyer said his clients were no longer interested in claiming their prize.
Intrigued, Lottery officials released a surveillance video of the unknown winner purchasing his ticket at a local gas station. Eddie Tipton’s co-workers recognized him, leading to his arrest in January 2015.
Prosecutors are also investigating Tommy Tipton’s friend Robert Rhodes, who claimed a $2m jackpot in 2007. Rhodes is currently in Texas, fighting extradition to Iowa.
If convicted, Tommy Tipton faces a possible 25-year stint behind bars. His brother Eddie is currently serving a 10-year sentence for his fraud conviction, while awaiting trial on his own ongoing criminal conduct charge.