Connecticut Lottery faces new investigation after pressure from Sen. Fasano, key lawmakers

March 15, 2018

Article as it appeared in the Connecticut Post 

HARTFORD — The state Department of Consumer Protection is opening an investigation into the Connecticut Lottery Corp. for its handling of three recent scandals and its treatment of employees following the incidents.

“DCP will open a wide-ranging investigation into the operation and management of the CLC (Connecticut Lottery Corp.),” DCP Commissioner Michelle Seagull wrote in a letter to legislators, who requested the investigation Wednesday

In November 2015, the lottery discovered retailers manipulated machines to print only winning tickets in the Five Card Cash game. In August 2017, a lottery mobile app incorrectly informed winners they lost.

And on January 1, 2018, the lottery botched a drawing, wrongly excluding 100,000 ticket buyers and costing the state nearly $1 million.

These mistakes have resulted in several investigations and some Lottery leaders have lost their positions. But DCP, which oversees the lottery, still sees ongoing issues, including the lottery’s relationship with DCP, possible retaliation against an employee who reported the Five Card Cash fraud, and the promotion of leaders with ties to former President Anne Noble.

In Seagull’s letter, DCP said it will also ask the lottery to cease all disciplinary actions against employees for mistakes made in the Jan. 1 drawing, pending its investigation.

Lottery officials had no comment Wednesday on the investigation, said Chelseas Turner, interim president and CEO of the Lottery Corp. The lottery’s Board of Directors will meet Thursday morning to draft a response.

Seagull announced her decision Wednesday in a letter to Senate Republican Leader Len Fasano, R-New Haven, and Rep. Joe Verrengia, D-West Hartford. Fasano and Verrengia had sent joint letters to DCP and the Lottery Corp. calling for an investigation.

The DCP’s intervention may mean the end of administrative leave for three employees involved in the Jan. 1 drawing, including the Lottery’s $139,000-a-year security director, Alfred DuPuis.

Fasano and Verrengia suggested in their letter that DuPuis might be the victim of retaliation by lottery leadership because he reported the Five Card Cash fraud to Noble as early as 2013, but she never acted on it.

DCP suspended Noble’s license to work at the lottery as a result of the scandal, but the Lottery Corp. gave her a separation agreement that allowed her to collect half a million dollars and continued to employ her as a “consultant.”

Meanwhile, Human Resources officials at the lottery never investigated the Five Card Cash scandal, but did investigate the New Year’s Day drawing blunder.

DuPuis and other members of the drawing team were guilty of “gross negligence,” Lottery Human Resources Director Jane Rooney found. A DCP investigation of the failing attributed the mistakes to human error.

“It gives the appearance of selective investigation and retaliation against Mr. Dupuis for his forthright testimony before the Public Safety Committee before the Five Card Cash scandal,” Fasano and Verrengia wrote.

“DCP had been hopeful after the departure of Ms. Noble from the President and CEO position, personnel and culture changes would be made to ensure the integrity of CLC operations,” Seagull wrote. “Unfortunately, we share your concern that issues stemming from Ms. Noble’s leadership remain within the CLC.”

Fasano and Verrengia, chairs of the Public Safety Committee, the legislative arm with authority over the lottery, also pointed to a string of instances in which lottery board members have been appointed president of the Corporation.

Noble was one such appointee.

“This revolving door of cronyism is disturbing and only adds to a lack of confidence in the impartiality and competence of the Lottery’s leadership,” they wrote.

They asked for an investigation into board members and their business contracts.