Programmer pleads guilty to theft in lottery rigging scandal

Eddie Tipton admitted one count of theft and one count of a computer crime.
ANDREW KELLY/REUTERS

Eddie Tipton admitted one count of theft and one count of a computer crime.

A lottery computer programmer charged with using his inside knowledge to win rigged games across the US hs pleaded guilty to fixing a 2007 jackpot in Wisconsin - his first admission of guilt in a scandal that rocked the industry.

Eddie Tipton entered the guilty plea to one count of theft and one count of a computer crime in a courtroom in Madison, after insisting on his innocence since his arrest in 2015.

He's set to be sentenced on September 21.

Tipton was security director for the Multi-State Lottery Association, where he wrote and installed code for software that picked random numbers for games sold by member lotteries.

Investigators say Tipton designed his software so that on three days out of the year, he could predict the winning numbers.

Tipton; his best friend, Texas businessman Robert Rhodes; and his brother, former Texas Judge Tommy Tipton, then bought winning numbers for those drawings and split the jackpots, authorities say.

Prosecutors say trio has been linked to winning tickets worth millions between 2005 and 2011 in Colorado, Wisconsin, Iowa, Kansas and Oklahoma.

The alleged scheme unravelled after Tipton was caught on surveillance video buying a winning US$16 million Hot Lotto ticket in December 2010 in Iowa that others would unsuccessfully try to cash a year later.

Tipton's guilty plea in Wisconsin came after Rhodes told investigators there in detail how the scheme worked for a US$783,000 Megabucks jackpot they won in 2007.

Rhodes pleaded guilty earlier this year to his role and pledged to testify against Tipton in Wisconsin and Iowa under plea agreements.

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Rhodes told investigators that he visited Tipton at his Iowa home in December 2007. Tipton gave him index cards containing a series of numbers for him to play for the upcoming drawing.

Rhodes drove to Wisconsin in a rental car, buying tickets from various stores in the southwestern part of the state, before driving back to Iowa and returning to Texas. Rhodes then used a limited liability company to claim the prize in Wisconsin.

 - AP

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