Madison WI Dec 23 2016 A former lottery computer administrator from Iowa and a friend from Texas were charged Thursday in Wisconsin with racketeering and theft by fraud for allegedly rigging a 2007 Megabucks game which paid them more than $780,000.
Eddie Tipton, who lived in Iowa and is now listed in court records as having an address in Flatonia, Tex., was charged by the state attorney general's office along with Robert Rhodes of Sugar Land, Tex. Tipton also faces four counts of computer crime. All are felonies.
The documents allege Tipton, who worked for the Urbandale, Iowa-based Multi-State Lottery Association, modified computer data so he could pick a winning number for the Dec. 29, 2007, Wisconsin Megabucks game. Tipton's job was to write software designed to randomly pick numbers for lottery computers used for various games by 37 state and territorial lotteries.
A state investigator says Rhodes confessed the scheme, explaining that Tipton recruited him to help win jackpots and gave him a series of numbers to play, one of which won the $783,257 jackpot that Rhodes collected and later split with Tipton.
The Wisconsin criminal complaint said Rhodes told a state investigator that in December 2007 he visited Tipton in Iowa and Tipton provided him with index cards with a series of numbers written on them, telling him that one of the numbers would win.
Rhodes said he rented a car, drove to Wisconsin and purchased tickets from various stores around southwest Wisconsin. He said after driving back to Iowa, he flew home to Texas.
Rhodes told the investigator that Tipton explained how a file he created in the computers could be activated at will.
He said Tipton wanted him to play again in December 2010. Rhodes said he did but had second thoughts and feared being caught, so he only played some of the numbers Tipton gave him. He later realized that one of the numbers he didn't play would have won another Megabucks jackpot.
He said in early 2011 Tipton visited him in Texas and showed him an Iowa Hot Lotto ticket that had hit the $16.5 million jackpot. Tipton told him he was thinking of having his brother, Tommy Tipton, cash it for him but he was concerned that Tommy had already won a 2005 Colorado jackpot. Although Rhodes attempted to get the ticket cashed through people he knew, he wasn't successful because Iowa Lottery officials grew suspicious.
Tipton, 53, plans to voluntarily appear to face the charges in mid-February "and looks forward to defending himself in court," said his attorney, Dean Stowers.
Rhodes' attorney did not immediately return a call seeking comment.
Rhodes and Tipton have known each other since the early 1990s when they were in business together in Texas.