The trial of a former Multi-State Lottery Association (MUSL) employee accused of rigging a Hot Lotto draw has heard from witnesses on both sides during the first few days in court. Eddie Raymond Tipton is being tried on two counts of fraud, having been arrested in January on suspicion of buying a Hot Lotto ticket and later claiming a prize. As the security director for the MUSL at the time of the draw in question in December 2010, he was not not allowed to play the game or win any money.
The trial was originally scheduled to go ahead in April but was pushed back three months following a dramatic late twist, when prosecutors filed 500 pages of new material alleging that Tipton had tampered with a number generator in order to win $14.3 million. The prize went unclaimed until just before it was due to expire, when an attorney from New York came forward on behalf of a Belize-based corporation. The claim was later withdrawn and Iowa authorities launched an investigation.
Tipton has pleaded not guilty to all charges and his defence team maintains that he is not the man seen in surveillance footage showing the moment the ticket was purchased at a Des Moines convenience store. Denise Tipton, Eddieâ€™s sister, testified this week to say the person in the video was not her brother, telling the court: â€œSeveral reasons just the general size for one, shoe size for another â€” never seen him wear a hooded jacket, never has he had a beard.â€ Defence lawyer Dean Stowers has argued that Tipton was clean-shaven at the time the ticket was bought, when he claims to have been visiting family in Texas.
Kathy Renaud, a Multi-State Lottery Association employee, had earlier told the prosecution that Tipton has facial hair â€˜not most of the time, but 50 per cent probablyâ€™. She said she had not immediately recognised the man in the footage as Tipton but â€˜when I heard the audio of the video, it was Eddieâ€™. Renaud also testified to Tiptonâ€™s expertise of the computer equipment, with the prosecution claiming that he would have had the opportunity to install a rootkit to override the machine that generates the winning numbers.
Tiptonâ€™s case is reported to be the first of its kind when somebody has been accused of manipulating a lottery draw. Closing arguments are scheduled to begin on Friday morning and Tipton will later learn his fate as a long-running saga which has gripped America moves towards a conclusion.