Lawyer withdraws mysterious claim on Iowa jackpot
DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) — A New York attorney withdrew his claim Thursday on a multi-million dollar Iowa Lottery prize just as mysteriously as he had made it, saying through a Des Moines law firm that he couldn't satisfy lottery officials' request for basic information about how he obtained the winning ticket.
The decision by Crawford Shaw of Bedford, N.Y., likely won't put an end to the saga. Iowa Lottery CEO Terry Rich said the lottery has asked the Iowa Division of Criminal Investigation and the Iowa Attorney General to investigate.
The lottery wants to know how Shaw obtained the ticket to make sure it wasn't stolen and that a valid player bought it. Officials say he submitted the ticket for redemption on behalf of a trust on Dec. 29, less than two hours before it expired, and has identified the recipient only as a corporation in the country of Belize.
It has been 13 months since the winning ticket was purchased at a Des Moines gas station in Dec. 2010. The payout for the prize would have been $7.5 million cash, or $10.3 million spread over 25 years after taxes.
Iowa lottery officials had given Shaw until Friday to provide the identities and contact information of anyone who purchased or possessed the ticket.
Instead of claiming the prize in person, as is normally done, Shaw signed the ticket on behalf of the trust and shipped it by FedEx to a Des Moines law firm he had retained.
Shaw, 76, sent a fax to the law firm Thursday saying he doesn't know the identity of the purchaser. The firm relayed the information to the lottery.
"In order that the claim be resolved without further controversy, Crawford Shaw, as Trustee for and on behalf of the Trust, does hereby withdraw the Claim and does hereby agree to take no further action to enforce the Claim," the fax signed by Shaw reads.
Shaw signed the ticket on behalf of Bedford, N.Y.-based Hexham Investments Trust, though lottery officials have said he misspelled the name of the trust by leaving off the second "h." Shaw claimed not to be a beneficiary of the trust.
Rich said Thursday that it's the strangest situation officials can recall in the 26-year history of the lottery. He declined to speculate on the details of the claim, saying if he knew more than what's been released, lottery officials would probably be writing a check to a winner.
"I'm telling you, if I could take all of the suggestions, it would be a heck of a fun book," Rich said.
He previously had said that the lottery had received several claims that the ticket was stolen.
Iowa law also prohibits employees and contractors of the lottery, their relatives and anyone under 21 from playing.
Shaw said Wednesday through the Des Moines-based Davis Brown Law Firm that if the jackpot were paid, the money would be donated to charity. He declined to comment further Thursday.
Records show Shaw played at least a minor role in the collapse of Industrial Enterprises of America, a chemical company that was looted and bankrupted in 2009 by a stock manipulation scheme. Shaw helped found the company after taking control of a Houston-based shell corporation, serving as its CEO from 2004 to 2005.
Shaw's history also includes lawsuits alleging fraud in Delaware and Texas.
The unclaimed money will go toward future prizes, Rich said.
Associated Press writer Ryan J. Foley in Iowa City, Iowa, contributed to this report.