DES MOINES — Eddie Tipton, the Iowa brainpower behind a case of multistate lottery fraud, will spend up to 25 years in prison for rigging “random” drawing jackpots.
"I certainly regret," Tipton said in Polk County District Court prior to sentencing with some of his former coworkers in the courtroom. "It’s difficult even saying that. With all the people I know behind me that I hurt and I regret it. I’m sorry."
It's unknown how many years Tipton will actually spend in prison. He could be paroled within three or four years, his attorneys noted.
“It is indeed unfortunate that you did not use that intelligence to prosper by legal means," said District Court Judge Brad McCall. "Instead you chose an illegal path."
Tipton, 54, was a longtime computer programmer in the Iowa offices of the Multi-State Lottery Association who installed software that allowed him to pick winning numbers in some of the nation’s most popular lottery drawings.
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His scam began to unravel after unsuccessful attempts to anonymously collect a $16.5 million Hot Lotto ticket that was purchased at a Des Moines convenience store in 2010.
In addition to Iowa, Tipton admitted to fixing games in Colorado, Wisconsin, Kansas and Oklahoma with the help of his brother and former Texas judge Tommy Tipton and Texas businessman Robert Rhodes.
After years of investigation, Eddie Tipton was arrested in 2015 and ultimately pleaded guilty in June to three felony charges related to the crimes.
As part of a plea deal the brothers are to pay back $3 million in restitution.
After his first illegal win in 2005, Tipton launched construction on a 4,800-square-foot home outside of Des Moines that contained a movie theater and gym, overlooked a pond and sat on 22 acres, court documents show. The scam went on to claim at least six more games across five states that netted more than $2 million, investigators alleged.
Tipton admitted his role as part of a plea deal to resolve charges in all states. His attorney, Dean Stowers, argued he should be given no more than four years in prison, saying Tipton was treated more harshly than other people involved in the crimes.
Tommy Tipton is serving a 75-day jail sentence in Texas after he pleaded guilty in June to conspiracy to commit theft by deception. Rhodes, of Sugar Land, Texas, pleaded guilty to a computer crime and will be sentenced Friday.