Unclaimed $16 million lotto ticket was mystery for years -- until now
DES MOINES, Iowa (KCCI) - Division of Criminal Investigation officials and the Iowa Attorney General's Office have charged a Norwalk man in connection with the Hot Lotto investigation over a winning ticket from 2010.
Eddie Raymond Tipton, 51, is charged with two counts of fraud.
Tipton was arrested Thursday afternoon and was taken to the Polk County Jail. Tipton was released on bond Thursday evening.
Authorities said Tipton works with the Multi-State Lottery Association, which is why he was not able to redeem the ticket -- lottery employees or vendors can't play lottery games. Authorities said the investigation is ongoing and additional arrests are possible.
Tipton is the director of information security for the Multi-State Lottery Association.
"This is one of the strangest situations in lottery history," Iowa Lottery President and CEO Terry Rich said.
Rich said the processes and procedures in place helped prevent this situation and not paying out the prize was the right move. He said officials plan to review security procedures to see if any additional changes need to be made.
"This is a huge mystery and we wanted to do everything possible to bring it to a close and this is a big step," Rich said.
The charges are based on Tipton's attempt to cash in the ticket and claim the prize.
DCI investigators said an out-of-state, Multi-State Lottery employee saw the surveillance video released last October of the ticket being sold and identified the person buying the ticket as Eddie Tipton.
Tipton first told investigators he was in Texas visiting relatives that day, but cellphone records indicate Tipton was in Des Moines the day the ticket was sold.
THE CASE BACKGROUND:
The multi-million dollar Hot Lotto ticket investigation started after the winning ticket was bought at a Quiktrip store in Des Moines on Dec. 23, 2010.
Someone tried to claim the ticket, then later an attorney came forward and ultimately the claim was dropped for the once $16 million and later $14 million prize. The total kept dropping as the prize continued to go unclaimed.
Assistant Director of DCI Dave Jobes said last October that they didn't believe the original ticket holder had committed any crimes. They didn't know his identity or why he had not come forward to claim the prize.
"A fraud was perpetrated when someone attempted to redeem the ticket fraudulently. From what we know at this point, they didn't have a lawful claim to that jackpot and attempted to claim it anyway," said Jobes.
Some leads in the case led investigators to Houston, Texas.
In October, authorities released store surveillance video of the ticket's purchase, saying nothing in the video appeared to be suspicious.
The video showed a man in a black jacket with hood up buying the ticket. The Quiktrip clerk who sold the man the winning ticket talked to KCCI. The clerk said the man was cool, calm and collected.
Authorities said fears about false leads in the case originally prevented the video's release. They asked the public to submit tips on the case using an online form.
"He seemed to be a regular customer from the neighborhood more than anything else," said Jeff Jones, the Quiktrip employee who sold the winning ticket.
"He had his own play slips and he knew what he was playing so there was nothing out of the ordinary about it," said Jones.
Due to the location to the Quiktrip just off Interstate 80, authorities said the man could be from Des Moines or he could be an out-of-towner.
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