DES MOINES – For the first time, the man accused of rigging several state lotteries – including in Iowa – has admitted he was involved.
Eddie Tipton is the former security director of the Multi-State Lottery Association. He was charged in 2015 with two counts of fraud for rigging a 2010 Hot Lotto jackpot in Iowa, worth around $14 million. He is accused of tampering with the computer software so that gave him the winning numbers.
Iowa investigators linked Tipton, his brother Tommy Tipton, and a long-time friend named Robert Rhodes to other suspected cases across the country, including one in Wisconsin. The case there stems from a 2007 Megabucks drawing that allegedly won Tipton and a business associate around $780,000.
Tipton appeared in court in Madison, Wisconsin on Monday afternoon. That is where the multi-state plea agreement was made public. Iowa is one of six states that signed the plea agreement. It says Eddie Tipton will plead guilty to one count of Ongoing Criminal Conduct in connection to the Iowa case, at a later date. The Iowa Attorney General’s Office says it is happy to finally see some progress.
“All the states agree that this is a good resolution,” said Assistant Iowa Attorney General Rob Sand.
After thousands of hours pouring over this case, Iowa officials are inching toward the end of one of the nation’s biggest lottery rigging scandals.
“Definitely one of the most interesting,” Sand said.
While in court in Wisconsin on Monday, it was revealed Eddie Tipton entered a plea agreement that is meant to be all-encompassing.
“The state is looking at this resolution as a way to conclude all litigation, and achieve a measure of finality in it,” Sand said. “You can’t really have an agreement that all parties are going to agree to if you still have loose sends out there.”
The one count of Ongoing Criminal Conduct in Iowa is the largest penalty for repeated financial crimes.
“Given the extent of the accusations and the evidence, we felt that the heaviest charge was appropriate,” Sand said.
In the Wisconsin case, Tipton pleaded guilty to one count of Theft by Fraud and one count of Computer Crime. Three states – Oklahoma, Kansas and Texas – have agreed not to prosecute Tipton.
“The admission in this means everything to us, because there’s always doubt until you receive that,” Iowa Lottery CEO Terry Rich said.
Rich says this case has been a burden on them for years. But now, there is a sense of closure.
“i can’t tell you how important it was I think to have this case cracked open in our state and how proud I am to be in Iowa, and the support that we have from our government officials, and law enforcement and the Attorney General’s Office,” Rich said
Rich says there is also a renewed promise to make sure this never happens again.
“It’s time to move on,” Rich said. “We found the one patch, so we’re going to do everything we can to improve our integrity as we move forward.”
But the Iowa Attorney General’s Office says the journey is not over yet.
“We won’t count our chickens before they hatch,” Sand said. “And until all of our proceedings are finished in Iowa, we won’t call anything the end of the road.”