DES MOINES, Iowa -- A former employee of the Multi-State Lottery Association will spend 10 years in prison after being convicted of fraud for rigging the Hot Lotto game to win millions.
Fifty-two-year-old Eddie Tipton was sentenced Wednesday in Polk County. Though Tipton's attorney asked for probation for his client, the Judge said Tipton's breach of trust warrants a prison sentence.
Tipton was found guilty of two counts of fraud in July.
"The scope of this case is breathtaking. We're talking about a $16 million case here where the defendant committed a series of acts where he intended the Iowa lottery to lose $16 million," said Assistant Iowa Attorney General Rob Sand.
Officials believe Tipton, who was the Information Security Director for the association, tampered with lottery computers to pick the winning numbers in a December 2010 drawing.
"That is about as large a breach of trust as I could possible imagine and that is something that the court considers to be a significant with regard to the gravity of this offense," said Judge Jeffrey Farrell.
Because of his employment, Tipton was not allowed to play the lottery. Surveillance video from a Des Moines convenience store showed the ticket being sold, but the identity of the man who bought it was unknown at the time.
Authorities say Tipton used intermediaries to try to cash the ticket. A lawyer representing a trust came forward the day the ticket was set to expire to claim the prize, but because Iowa’s laws require the winner’s identity to be made public, the claim was withdrawn and the jackpot was never paid out.
Tipton’s attorney plans to appeal the conviction on the grounds that statute of limitations ran out.
"My client's been a hard-working guy his whole life. He's a good person. He's always been completely honest throughout the whole case," said defense attorney Dean Stowers.
Stowers says Tipton is living and working for an IT company in Texas. He remains free on bond during the appeal process.