Ex-Lottery security chief charged with rigging jackpot
Former lottery security officer Eddie Tipton leaves the Polk County Courthouse in Des Moines, Iowa, after his sentencing in a jackpot-fixing scandal. Charlie Neibergall / AP
BY TRACY CONNOR and CHRIS FRANCESCANI, NBC News
(NBC News) - A computer whiz implicated in lottery-rigging schemes in four states has now been charged with fixing a jackpot in a fifth.
Wisconsin prosecutors filed a criminal complaint Friday against Eddie Tipton and alleged accomplice Robert Rhodes in connection with a 2007 Megabucks drawing that paid out $783,257.72.
Tipton, 53, was the director of IT security at the Multi-State Lottery Association, the organization that helps run the lottery, including picking the numbers and maintaining security, in 37 states.
Authorities say he planted code in software for the number-generating machines so they would produce predictable numbers on certain dates. He then had Rhodes buy a ticket with numbers he knew would win and they split the proceeds, the complaint says.
Two years later, Tipton tried to get Rhodes to help him again, showing him a winning ticket for a $16 million jackpot for the Iowa Hot Lotto game, prosecutors said. The IT specialist said he was thinking of having his brother, Tommy, collect it but was worried it would look suspicious since he had won a 2005 Colorado lottery, the court papers say.
Rhodes tried and failed to collect the winnings through a third party — triggering an investigation that eventually led to Eddie Tipton on trial. He was convicted last July but has maintained his innocence, saying he was scapegoated by investigators.
Rhodes is scheduled to plead guilty in that case next month, and Tommy Tipton, a former Texas justice of the peace, has also been charged in Iowa.
Court filings in Iowa note that Eddie Tipton also has ties to lottery winners in other states, including Kansas and Oklahoma.