Two brothers who directed the biggest lottery scam in U.S. history have repaid less than $1,400 in restitution despite owning property worth nearly $2 million, a Des Moines Register and Corpus Christi (Texas) Caller Times investigation has found.
Between them, Eddie and Tommy Tipton admitted rigging drawings in at least five states worth a combined $24 million.
But they barely have made a dent in the more than $2.4 million they were ordered to pay in restitution even though they own more than a half dozen properties in Texas that are worth nearly as much as they owe, according to records the Register has obtained.
At the pair’s current rate of repayment, Oklahoma — one of the five state lotteries the brothers scammed — estimates it will be fully reimbursed in 190 years.
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“How do these guys slip through the loop every damn time? They’re like Teflon,” said Allen Weise of Flatonia, Texas, who provided information about the brothers and their properties to Iowa prosecutors before their 2017 convictions.
Eddie Tipton, mastermind of the “random number” scam and former security chief of the Urbandale, Iowa-headquartered Multi-State Lottery Association, remains in prison serving a 2017 sentence that could last up to 25 years. His job also barred him from playing the lottery because the association provides games for state lotteries across the USA.
His brother, Tommy Tipton, a former justice of the peace from Flatonia, Texas, who admitted helping his brother hijack the world’s largest lottery network, served a 75-day jail sentence and has been off probation for 15 months.
Using “random” numbers generated from a computer program designed by his brother at the Multi-State Lottery Association, Tommy Tipton acknowledged that he helped to claim prizes in at least two states: Colorado and Oklahoma.
Eddie Tipton was ordered to pay almost $1.7 million in restitution while Tommy Tipton was ordered to pay more than $800,000.
From prison, Eddie Tipton has paid almost $800. His brother has repaid $587, court records show.
Yet, the brothers retain full or partial ownership in more than $1.8 million of property in Fayette County, Texas, where Flatonia is located about halfway between Houston and San Antonio.
Since Tommy Tipton’s Sept. 15, 2017, release from jail and probation he has:
• Sold at least two properties with a combined market value of more than $635,000.
• Continued to own his longtime home with a pool valued at almost $780,000.
• Remained the sole owner of at least five business or investment properties that have a combined market value of $572,950.
• Continued as a joint owner with his still-imprisoned brother in at least two properties and mineral rights on a third valued at $105,420.
So far, no state has pursued the legal actions outlined in the Tiptons’ plea deals that entitle the defrauded lotteries to lay claim to the brothers’ property or to property that the Tiptons placed in the names of associates and family members.
When the Register contacted Tommy Tipton, he declined to discuss his current work, income or properties. He said in that brief interview that his brother, Eddie, “ain’t never done anything wrong in his life” and vowed the two would once again work together.
“It’s hard. I’m a single dad raising three kids on a very limited income with lots of bills, and when Eddie gets home he probably will create something,” Tommy Tipton said. “He’s a smart, intelligent guy. Hopefully, the future will be better and we’ll get all that stuff paid back.”
In 2007, Eddie Tipton built a roughly 5,000-square-foot home in Norwalk, Iowa, a Des Moines suburb. That was two years after he embedded fraudulent computer code into random-number generating software that several state lottery games distributed and used.
The random-number fraud allowed him to accurately predict at least five winning drawings that totaled more than $24 million in Colorado, Iowa, Kansas, Oklahoma and Wisconsin.