Iowa computer programmer gets 25 years for lottery scam

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) — A judge has sentenced a lottery computer programmer to up to 25 years in prison for rigging a computer program to enable him to pick winning numbers in several lottery games over six years.

Eddie Tipton pleaded guilty earlier this summer to ongoing criminal conduct, and on Tuesday he received the prison sentence.

Judge Brad McCall also ordered Tipton to repay more than $2 million that the scheme paid Tipton and others.

Tipton's brother, Tommy Tipton, is serving a 75-day jail sentence on a theft charge. A friend of Eddie Tipton's, Robert Rhodes, of Sugar Land, Texas, will be sentenced Aug. 25 on a computer crime charge.

Tipton worked for the Multi-State Lottery Association in Iowa. He fixed lottery games in Colorado, Wisconsin, Kansas, Iowa and Oklahoma between 2005 and 2011.

Iowa Lottery CEO Terry Rich released the following statement:

"We appreciate the work of the judge and respect the court's decision. This moment has been years coming, and provides closure and certainty after all this time. 

Every organization will face tests throughout its history, and this case certainly was one for our lottery. It's disconcerting that someone who worked at a vendor organization within the lottery industry chose to betray the trust placed in him for his own personal gain. We're glad that the judicial system worked and that this case has been solved. 

This case is an important reminder to lotteries everywhere to keep monitoring and making improvements to stay ahead of those who would try to beat the system. It was the security procedures at our lottery that caught this fraud attempt and prevented a multi-million-dollar jackpot from being paid out. 

We're proud of the work done in this case and thank the Iowa Attorney General's Office and Iowa Division of Criminal Investigation for their dedication and professionalism in achieving this outcome. 

Some might say this case represented our lottery's worst day, but in retrospect, I also believe it was our best day in terms of the information we learned and the enhanced procedures and processes we have in place today to protect against the vulnerabilities identified. We thank our players for their understanding through this long-running case as the process ensured that justice was served.

I have absolute confidence in the integrity of Iowa Lottery's games today and know that they offer everyone the same fair shot at winning."