(Reuters) - Iowa's top court on Friday overturned the fraud and tampering conviction of a former multi-state lottery worker because prosecutors waited too long to bring charges, but the former employee still faces prison time for crimes in Wisconsin.
The Iowa Supreme Court ruled that state prosecutors waited beyond the three-year statute of limitations to bring charges against Eddie Tipton, a security expert with the Multi-State Lottery Association, which provides services to Iowa, Wisconsin and several other state lotteries.
An Iowa jury convicted Tipton in 2015 of fraudulently passing or redeeming a lottery ticket, and tampering with lottery equipment to influence the drawing of the state's $16.5 million Hot Lotto jackpot in December 2010.
The high court, however, dismissed the tampering conviction, rejecting state prosecutors' arguments that the violations were "continuing" offences that transcend legal time bars. It also vacated the fraud conviction and sent it back to the lower court.
But Tipton has already pleaded guilty to separate felony charges in Wisconsin related to the high-tech rigging of software that affected that state's lottery.
The plea agreement, announced on June 12, also requires him to plead guilty to one count of ongoing criminal conduct in Iowa at a later date and to pay restitution to Colorado, Kansas and Oklahoma for similar fraudulent lottery wins.
As a result, he faces 13-1/2 years in prison and a fine of $35,000 for theft by fraud and computer crime for programming lottery software resulting in him winning nearly $800,000, Wisconsin Attorney General Brad Schimel said.
His sentencing is scheduled for Sept. 21.
In 2007, Tipton programmed a modified code in the random number generator software that, when certain conditions were met, produced a predictable set of winning numbers, Schimel said.
He then supplied these numbers to his friend, Robert Rhodes, who purchased a winning in Wisconsin Megabucks ticket worth $783,257 on Dec. 29, 2007. Rhodes and Tipton split the proceeds.
(Reporting by Peter Szekely in New York; editing by Frank McGurty and Lisa Shumaker)