If someone hasn’t already sold the movie rights to the story of Eddie Raymond Tipton, expect it to happen soon. Tipton, an Iowa-based former “security director” for the Multi-State Lottery Association (MUSL), is accused of trying to pull off the perfect plot to allow himself to win the lottery. It didn’t work, but not for the lack of effort. MUSL runs a bunch of the big name lotteries in the US, including Mega Millions and Powerball. It also runs the somewhat smaller Hot Lotto offering, which was what Tipton apparently targeted. When he was arrested back in January, the claims were that it had to do with him just playing and winning the lottery and then trying to hide the winnings. Lottery employees are (for obvious reasons) not allowed to play. However, late last week, prosecutors in Iowa revealed that it was now accusing Tipton of not just that, but also tampering with the lottery equipment right before supposedly winning $14.3 million. Because of these new revelations, Tipton’s trial has been pushed back until July. However, the details of the plot and how it unraveled feel like they come straight out of a Hollywood plot.
First, there’s the story of how Tipton was discovered winning the lottery in the first place. The ticket was purchased in late December 2010 in a QuickTrip off of Highway 80 in Iowa. The winning $14.3 million went unclaimed for nearly a year, but right before it was set to expire, a New York lawyer named Crawford Shaw showed up with paperwork to claim it. However, Shaw refused to reveal the necessary details about who actually won the money, as Shaw was merely representing Hexham Investments Trust, which was a shell company set up in Belize. Belize, as you already know, is a popular place to setup offshore companies if you want the true ownership to be anonymous. The problem, however, is that Iowa doesn’t allow for anonymous lottery winners. That resulted in Iowa officials investigating who was really behind the winning ticket.
The resulting investigation took them from the NY lawyer Shaw to some (unnamed) guy in Quebec City, Canada, who was listed as Hexham Investments Trust’s trustor and president. That guy eventually pointed investigators to two other guys in the Houston area: Robert Rhodes and an unnamed Houston attorney — who had also known the NY attorney, Shaw, for many years. The attorney in Houston insisted that he represented the winner of the ticket who wished to remain anonymous. Somewhat stumped, investigators released a video and screenshots of the guy at the QuickTrip who bought the ticket: