Jury selection for the Hot Lotto fraud trial began on Monday, with opening statements taking place on Tuesday. The trial had been set to start in mid-April, but the presiding judge moved the date back to July after the prosecution set forth new evidence which they claim proves Tipton actively rigged the system to win a Hot Lotto top prize. They claim surveillance videos prove that Tipton purchased the winning ticket at a Des Moines convenience store after tampering with the security cameras in the “draw room” at MUSL offices in order to install the rootkit.
The trial may serve as the finale to a nearly five-year mystery that has captivated lottery fans across the US and around the world. A $16.5 million jackpot was won in Iowa on 29th December, 2010, but the prize went unclaimed until the last minute, when Crawford Shaw, an attorney from New York, attempted to claim the prize in 2011 on behalf of a corporation based in Belize. The claim was eventually withdrawn, and in 2012 Iowa authorities launched an investigation.
The prosecution claims that Tipton rigged the machine, purchased the ticket and then passed it on to friends in Texas in order to claim the cash. Ed Stefan, a close friend of Tipton, testified against him this week, saying that he felt physically sick when he saw the surveillance video last autumn. “It looks just like Eddie,” he stated. “It sounds just like Eddie, it acts just like Eddie, the mannerisms are just like Eddie.” The other witnesses questioned also said that the mannerisms and voice of the man in the surveillance video matched that of Tipton. Prosecutors will now have to prove this connection beyond a reasonable doubt, as Tipton claims he was clean-shaven at the time while the man in the video has facial hair.
Tipton was further criticised by Assistant Attorney General Rob Sand for giving an interview to the Daily Beast last week, in which Tipton claimed that he was being framed and that he only went into the draw room in November 2010 to reset the computer system to account for Daylight Savings Time. His lawyer, Dean Stowers, insisted in the same interview that the man caught on camera in Des Moines couldn’t be Tipton and that the person in question was “wearing a fake beard” and could possibly be “a skinny man in a fat suit”, noting Tipton’s stocky appearance. Sand was unimpressed with the interview, calling it “a calculated effort to sway the case through the press”.
The trial continues.