LOS ANGELES (CBSLA) — Two California Lottery insiders claim the lottery sometimes chooses image over integrity.
CBS2’s David Goldstein previously reported on a man who collected a nearly $2 million Powerball check, even though he said he lost the ticket.
And the chief Lottery investigator said in her report he couldn’t provide substantial proof that he was the winner, which is required by law.
Insiders say it’s not the first time that people have been paid when investigators say they shouldn’t have. All, they say, to avoid bad publicity.
They produced a Lottery report of a San Francisco man who won a $750,000 Scratcher this year. According to the report, the investigator concluded that the claim be denied because there were conflicting statements in relation to who purchased and play the winning ticket.
But it was eventually determined the claim be paid even though it allegedly violated Lottery regulations.
And the Lottery sent out a press release announcing the new winner, never mentioning any conflicting statements.
They also claim the Lottery has taken a passive approach to cracking down on retailers who may be breaking the rules in order to avoid bad press.
They say one way to do it is known as “pinning”, where retailers carefully scrape off the bar code on a Scratcher to see if it’s a winner. If it’s not, it goes back on the shelf and they try to sell it to unsuspecting players.
Helen Brean, the former chief Lottery investigators, was fired after filing an internal complaint about the $1.9 million Powerball winner who took home the prize after she alleged he didn’t have substantial proof.
“They didn’t really like us going out and doing a lot of enforcement,” Brean said. “It was kind of, ‘Keep everything quiet, we don’t want people to think that … there’s any negative aspect to the Lottery.”
Lottery officials in the case of the $750,000 Scratcher said the decision to pay the prize was based on the investigator’s initial findings. The Lottery said it makes decisions regarding payment of prizes based on the law and the facts in each case.