The 52-year-old from Iowa was accused of using his security privileges in November 2010 to upload a self-deleting rootkit program to the lottery computer in order to influence the winning line for the draw on 29th December 2010. He then bought a ticket bearing the rigged numbers and attempted to persuade others to claim the prize as he was prohibited from playing due to his position.
Jurors deliberated for five hours on Monday before delivering the guilty verdicts, even though no one actually managed to cash in the ticket. The court heard that Tipton confided in a Texan friend, who enlisted acquaintances to help claim the winnings. An attempt was made by New York attorney Crawford Shaw on behalf of a local Iowa law firm to present the winning ticket to lottery officials hours before the prize expired in December 2011, but state law asserts that lottery winners must have their identities made public so it was never paid out.
A crucial piece of evidence from the case was the CCTV footage of a man buying the winning Hot Lotto ticket on 23rd December 2010 from a shop in Des Moines. Although the quality of the footage is less than perfect and the man’s face is obscured by a hood, detectives claimed that his voice matched Tipton’s. Their theory was backed up by Kathy Cubit, a former colleague at the Iowa lottery. The licence number of a car in the shop’s parking lot was also linked with Tipton, although his sister and brothers testified that the man in the footage was not him.
Tipton’s lawyer, Dean Stowers, protested that the man in the video could have been wearing a fake beard and even claimed it might be a more slender man in a fat suit who was attempting to frame his client. Stowers has stated that he will appeal the decisions due to what he perceived as “lack of evidence.”
Tipton faces up to five years in jail on each count and will remain free on bond until his sentencing on Wednesday 9th September.
As well as Hot Lotto, MUSL operates the huge Powerball and Mega Millions lottery games across 37 jurisdictions in the United States