Public May Get a Peek at Hot Lotto Surveillance Video

By James Q. Lynch, Reporter

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By Liz Blood

CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa – The public may get a glimpse of the person who bought a multi-million Hot Lotto that has led to intrigue, but no payout.

If leads the Iowa Department of Criminal Investigation is following don’t pan out in the next couple of weeks, the agency may turn to the public for help in unraveling the mystery behind the purchase of a Hot Lotto ticket valued at $7.5 million after taxes.

“We’re definitely hoping that we get some help,” said DCI Special Agent-in-Charge Patrick Townsend.

It’s unlikely the DCI will release the entire surveillance tape, Townsend said. Instead, a “snippet” or a still photo taken from the video may be shared with the public in hopes someone will see something to aid in the investigation.

The winning ticket was drawn Dec. 29, 2010. A New York attorney acting on behalf of a Belize-based investment trust filed a claim for the prize less than two hours before the jackpot was slated to expire. However, he withdrew the claim after Lottery officials said they would not pay the money unless he answered their questions.

Earlier this month Lottery Director Terry Rich said the odds of solving the mystery probably were 50-50. It’s not for lack of interest, he said. It’s the only case in world lottery history that someone won a major jackpot and gave it up, Rich said.

The DCI has run down several leads, but none have led to an arrest.

“There is some point in time when you open it up (to the public) because you want attention,” Townsend said. “So let’s see if someone out there will say, ‘Hey, I know that person’ or ‘That looks like it could be …’ or whatever it might be and see if we can get some help that way.”

That’s not a given, Townsend warned.

“I don’t recall the quality of it being excessively great,” he said about the video. “But it’s something to go with, something with hope.”

The Gazette has filed a request under the Freedom of Information Act for access to the video.

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