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How British professional gambler took aim at $25.8M Lotto jackpot in Connecticut

Jon Lender, The Hartford Courant on

Published in News & Features

The Nov. 1 drawing of a winner sent the Lotto jackpot back down to its base of $1 million. It will grow if no one wins it, as happened in the 19 months since January 2018.

While it's evident that the growth of the jackpot to more than $25 million attracted Marantelli to Connecticut, it remains unclear -- absent any comment from him -- what calculations he made in deciding it was worth the risk to buy so many random "Quick Picks." Despite the huge number of tickets purchased, he couldn't come close to covering all 7,059,052 possible combinations of six numbers out of a field of 44.

"Quick Picks" include the possibility (albeit not a huge one) that more than one ticket will contain the same six numbers, lottery officials say.

Patel said he believed most of Marantelli's ticket purchases were at his store and at Park View Variety, a short walk around the corner. Other nearby convenience store owners were worried or skeptical, at least to begin with, about the group of strangers laden with so much cash, he said.

While all of that has been happening, hearings continued this past week in the whistleblower case of former lottery security director Alfred W. DuPuis. He retired a year ago when faced with potential disciplinary proceedings in connection with a million-dollar mistake made by his subordinates in the New Year's Super Draw on Jan. 1, 2018.

The latest hearing was conducted for several hours Tuesday in Hartford by Michele Mount, the state chief human rights referee for the Commission on Human Rights and Opportunities, and at least one more such session will have to be held, lawyers for the lottery and DuPuis said.

DuPuis has complained that a charge of "gross neglect" -- lodged against him in the 2018 Super Draw blunder by then-acting lottery CEO Chelsea Turner -- was, in reality, belated retaliation for his role as a whistleblower about irregularities and improprieties in the ill-fated 5 Card Cash game about five years ago.

The lottery denies that, and called former CLC lottery board Chairman Don DeFronzo as a witness Tuesday. He testified that Turner had never said anything negative to him about DuPuis, and in fact had told him that she didn't think that any of the three lottery employees whose conduct was questioned in the drawing snafu should be fired.

 

Turner, now CLC vice president, was herself placed on paid administrative leave July 15 from her $190,000-a-year job by lottery President/CEO Gregory Smith under a state personnel regulation that provides for "investigation of alleged serious misconduct which could constitute just cause for dismissal."

Smith has refused to say why he did that. His action came soon after her explosive sworn testimony at a DuPuis complaint hearing on July 9 that around 2014, she contacted a friend in the FBI about what she saw as suspicious actions by Frank Farricker, then the CLC's governing board chairman. The FBI soon had then-lottery president/CEO Anne Noble secretly record at least one conversation with Farricker, using an electronic device hidden in an eyeglass case.

Nothing came of the FBI's criminal investigation five years ago. But the disclosure of it by Turner in July brought renewed scrutiny by legislators and the governor of the quasi-public lottery -- which has been accused in recent years of abusing the special autonomy it enjoys in comparison to regular executive branch departments.

Turner still hasn't returned to work, lottery officials say, declining further comment on what they say is a personnel matter.

(c)2019 The Hartford Courant (Hartford, Conn.)

Visit The Hartford Courant (Hartford, Conn.) at www.courant.com

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