Investigators Say Canadian Offers New leads in Iowa Hot Lotto Mystery
By James Q. Lynch, Reporter
CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa - Investigators hope information from a Canadian “who is in the history” of a $14.3 million lottery prize will be the key to solving a nearly three-year-old mystery surrounding the never-redeemed ticket.
The unidentified man provided information that helped the Iowa Attorney General’s Office and Division of Criminal Investigation identify persons in Houston, Texas, “who may have information about this lottery ticket” preceding the involvement of an attorney who came forward at the last moment to claim the prize, according to Assistant Attorney General Thomas H. Miller.
Miller, who along with the DCI traveled to Canada at Iowa Lottery expense, said Tuesday the Canadian is not the person who bought the Hot Lotto ticket that had an after-tax value of $7.5 million ticket when it was drawn Dec. 29, 2010. However, Miller would not say whether the Canadian ever held the winning ticket or knew who did.
Miller would not say whether the Canadian came forward or the DCI investigation led to him. He was promised immunity from prosecution after it was determined he was not a prime suspect and all other efforts to obtain his cooperation had failed.
Investigators have been trying to untangle the Hot Lotto mystery ever since an attempt was made to redeem the winning ticket in late 2011. It was delivered to the Iowa Lottery by FedEx. Less than two hours before the deadline for claiming the jackpot, Crawford Shaw, a New York attorney, came forward to expire to file paperwork to claim the prize. Shaw said he was acting on behalf of an investment trust in Belize, which is known as a tax haven.
Iowa Lottery officials refused to pay the prize because of questions about the ticket’s ownership. Shaw withdrew his claim in January 2012.
“Now we have information of what happened in the late stages of this ticket’s journey,” he said. “We’re trying to fill in the entire history of the movement of this ticket.”
The investigation is about more than satisfying the collective curiosities of state agencies, Miller said.
“The DCI doesn’t engage in uncovering mysteries for its own sake,” Miller said. “The fact there is a criminal provision in the Iowa Code relating to fraudulent redemption of lottery tickets is what brings the involvement of DCI.”
In addition to possible charges, Miller said Lottery official are interested in the “entire history of the possession and changing of hands of that Hot Lotto ticket … in large part because state Lottery wishes to make sure any winning purchases are legally made.”
“Whatever the history of the ticket, it’s a crime in Iowa to engage in fraud in an effort to redeem a lottery ticket,” he said.
While the interview in Canada has been helpful, it was not an “aha” moment, Miller said.
“But it’s at least an ‘ah’ moment,” he said.
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