Longtime Mass Lottery employee fired for allegedly cashing unsold winning scratch tickets
An established gross sales manager for the Massachusetts State Lottery was once fired Tuesday after he was once observed cashing winning speedy tickets, a state legit stated, sparking concern that the lottery’s supposedly strict safety protocols can have been violated.
David Cannistraro, a $100,000-a-year employee who had labored for the lottery since 2002, was once first put on paid administrative go away in June after every other lottery employee noticed him cashing tickets at a shop on Cape Cod, stated Chandra Allard, leader of group of workers on the state treasury.
Lottery officers imagine he was once now not simply enjoying the lottery — which is illegitimate by way of state legislation for lottery workers and their quick households — however might also were serving to himself to tickets that had been returned to the New Bedford district place of job however had been nonetheless energetic and may well be cashed.
“We are taking this matter very seriously as the integrity of our operations is of the utmost importance,” stated lottery govt director Michael Sweeney in a remark. “The lottery is not only performing our own internal investigation, but has also referred this matter to the MA State Police.”
In a notification to State Auditor Suzanne Bump despatched on Aug. five, lottery officers estimated that $10,000 to $15,000 in tickets had been stolen, however added that the topic remains to be beneath investigation. If that quantity is correct, it suggests a lot of winning tickets had been cashed as a result of handiest prizes of lower than $600 may also be accumulated at a shop. Larger prizes require the winner to visit a lottery place of job.
The lottery tightly controls how unsold tickets are returned and saved as a result of till they’re destroyed the tickets are energetic and prizes may also be claimed.
When a lottery agent is terminated or a recreation discontinued, tickets come again in locked baggage and are positioned in a locked room the place two workers of various departments are intended to ensure in writing that the contents fit what was once taken from the retail retailer. They are then positioned in locked containers to be shredded and destroyed.
Cannistraro seems to have received get admission to to returned tickets, Allard stated.
State Trooper Steven McKay, who’s assigned to the state treasury, is investigating how the returned tickets had been accessed, how ceaselessly, and by way of whom. He may be taking a look at different district places of work to peer whether or not they are going to have safety gaps, Allard stated.
In his remark, director Sweeney promised to rent “an independent, outside firm to conduct an audit to ensure that proper safeguards are put in place” as soon as McKay’s investigation is completed.
Victor Matheson, a professor on the College of the Holy Cross and a professional on playing, stated the lottery will have to take the alleged robbery severely.
“Keeping an honest image is really an important piece of any lottery’s job,” Matheson stated. “This is exactly the sort of thing that is very harmful to the reputation of the agency and the sort of thing that causes players to not want to participate.”
He expressed wonder that a lottery employee was once it seems that in a position to achieve get admission to to unused tickets and money them in through the years with out being detected.
“It’s not surprising that someone tries this. It’s a problem in any gambling operation,” Matheson stated. “It’s surprising that they could get away with it and not get caught quickly.”
Officials stated the lottery lately installed a spot a brand new pc machine that can save you robbery by way of deactivating unused tickets at retail shops — sooner than they’re returned to the lottery.
The new machine was once installed position a couple of months sooner than Cannistraro was once observed cashing tickets.
State Treasurer Deborah Goldberg, who oversees the lottery, came upon concerning the incident in early August and praised the employee who reported seeing Cannistraro cashing in tickets.
“The lottery is taking the appropriate steps to get to the bottom of this and I am proud that a lottery employee stepped forward to make us aware of potential wrongdoing,” she stated in a written remark.
Cannistraro may just now not be reached for remark, nor may just the employee who introduced the incident to the eye of his bosses. Tom McKeever, an legit of SEIU native 888 which represents lottery workers, declined to remark, bringing up the continued investigation. A attorney for the union didn’t go back telephone calls.
This isn’t the primary time the lottery has confronted questions concerning the safety of returned tickets.
In 2014, State Auditor Bump discovered that two workers didn’t all the time log out at the price ticket returns, as required, to insure the lottery had “properly accounted for, and safeguarded” tickets that were returned from shops who had been not lottery brokers.
Lottery officers stated on the time that they had installed position a machine that may be sure that returned tickets had been secured and destroyed.
Bump stated she was once bothered to be informed that safety weaknesses exposed by way of her 2014 audit won’t were corrected.
“If these allegations are substantiated,” she stated, “it is indeed troubling that a supervisor engaged in these activities and that safeguards we recommended in prior audits apparently have not been fully implemented. “
State audits are most often carried out each 3 years, however Bump’s place of job has now not achieved an extra audit since 2014.
Bump stated her place of job was once making plans a brand new audit and stated “the results will be made public when that process is complete.”