Iowa man convicted of lottery rigging scheme granted parole

FILE - Former lottery computer programmer Eddie Tipton speaks during his sentencing hearing, Tuesday, Aug. 22, 2017, at the Polk County Courthouse in Des Moines, Iowa. Tipton, serving a 25-year prison sentence for rigging computers to win lottery jackpots for himself, friends and family will be released from an Iowa prison on parole after serving nearly five years, but he could be forced to return to prison in another state if he doesn't pay required restitution. The Iowa Board of Parole granted release to Tipton on Jan. 20, 2022, because of good behavior, and he will be allowed to live in Texas, a board document said. (AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall File) (Charlie Neibergall, Copyright 2017 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.)

DES MOINES, Iowa – A man serving a 25-year prison sentence for rigging computers to win lottery jackpots for himself, friends and family will be released from an Iowa prison on parole after serving nearly five years, but he could be forced to return to prison in another state if he doesn't pay required restitution.

Eddie Tipton appears to owe about $1.6 million in restitution in four states and said in court documents filed in January 2020 that he couldn't pay. As of a 2019 court document, he had paid less than $2,000 toward the states' restitution.

The Iowa Board of Parole granted release to Tipton on Jan. 20 because of good behavior, and he will be allowed to live in Texas, a board document said.

An Iowa Department of Corrections spokesman did not immediately respond to questions about how soon Tipton would be released.

Tipton pleaded guilty in 2017 to ongoing criminal conduct and was ordered to repay $2.2 million in ill-gotten winnings from lotteries in Colorado, Wisconsin, Kansas and Oklahoma. He shared some of the restitution obligation with his brother in Texas, Tommy Tipton, who collected some of the winnings.

An Iowa jury also convicted Eddie Tipton of attempting to take $16.5 million from a rigged Iowa Lottery game in December 2010, but the Iowa Supreme Court in 2017 overruled the decision, saying the state took too long to prosecute him.

Eddie Tipton owes no restitution in Iowa because Iowa Lottery officials never paid him for the Hot Lotto ticket he attempted to redeem in December 2010 after suspecting misconduct. He also agreed to a plea deal in Wisconsin that requires him to repay $409,600 to that state. Court documents from 2019 show that Eddie Tipton had paid $463 and still owed the state $409,137.

In Wisconsin, Eddie Tipton must pay restitution to the state by the end of his sentence there. His four years in prison was ordered served concurrently with the Iowa sentence but he has parole to complete in Wisconsin, which would end in September 2026. If he hasn't paid his full restitution by then, a judge could order him back to prison there, according to information provided by Wisconsin officials to Iowa Auditor Rob Sand, who was an assistant attorney general who prosecuted Tipton’s case.

“Eddie may be done with this term, but under his plea agreement, he needs to get restitution paid to avoid serving more time in Wisconsin. I wish him luck in getting that done,” Sand said.

The 2019 document shows that Eddie Tipton still owed Colorado more than $568,300, Oklahoma $643,700 and Kansas $30,700 in restitution. It's not clear whether he could be returned to prison if he hasn't paid restitution in those states.

Eddie Tipton worked at an Urbandale, Iowa, organization that provided random number drawing computers to several lottery states. Investigators said he installed code on lottery computers that allowed him to predict the winning numbers on specific days. He, his brother and others played the numbers he predicted and claimed winnings.

Tommy Tipton was sentenced to 75 days in jail in Texas and was ordered to pay a portion of the restitution in some states.

Eddie Tipton, at his 2017 Iowa sentencing hearing, told the judge he “wrote software that included code that allowed me to understand or technically predict winning numbers, and I gave those numbers to other individuals who then won the lottery and shared the winnings with me.”

It’s not clear what happened to the money Eddie Tipton and his associates won between 2005 and 2011. Out of the seven known winning tickets that netted more than $2.2 million, Eddie Tipton claimed to have ended up with only $351,000.

Eddie Tipton, 58, has filed a lawsuit in state court claiming he was placed under duress to plead guilty. He also alleges that Iowa officials charged him for restitution in states for which it has no jurisdiction, and he says he can’t pay.

Assistant Attorney General William Hill asked a judge in November to dismiss the case, saying the lawsuit was barred by the statute of limitations and it should be dismissed as frivolous. Hill also said by filing the lawsuit Tipton is violating the terms of his plea agreements and that the violation "provides the opportunity for all jurisdictions to re-initiate criminal charges against him. A trial is set for Aug. 17.