One fired over missing lottery money

  • Posted: Friday, November 2, 2012 12:01 a.m.
    UPDATED: Friday, November 2, 2012 3:16 p.m.

South Carolina Education Lottery executive director Paula Harper Bethea followed up Wednesday’s announcement that an internal investigation revealed an accounting discrepancy last month by confirming that she has “terminated an employee” but was still unable to comment on the investigation.

The S.C. State Law Enforcement Division is in charge of the investigation into the discrepancy that occurred early in October. SLED public information officer Katherine Richardson told the Aiken Standard on Thursday that an arrest has not yet been made.

“I can say that appropriate actions have been taken and any accounting discrepancies have been resolved,” Bethea said in a press release sent out late Wednesday. “Although tight internal control mechanisms were in place to prevent this type of action, someone intent on circumventing procedures and controls found a way. Even more stringent additional monitoring procedures are now in place to detect this kind of activity in the future.”

Bethea said she could not comment further due to the ongoing investigation and would not say how much money has gone missing. However, she was quick to point out that the discrepancy was not on the “gaming side.” She said that all SCEL retailers, players and prizes are protected.

“The people of South Carolina and our lottery players can know that at no time was the integrity or the security of the central gaming system or any of our games affected,” Bethea said in the release.

She added to the Standard on Thursday that, “This was never on our gaming side. Never. Our games were never compromised.”

Bethea also said this had nothing to do with last Friday’s Department of Revenue breach and that all of the information surrounding last month’s events should be released in the near future.

South Carolina’s lottery games started in 2002. According to a Legislative Audit Council report released in 2010, the lottery didn’t follow procedures in a contract to put security features on lottery tickets and or provide enough information about who is playing the games or their chances of winning, according to The Associated Press.

The AP reported that the lottery had added bar codes to scratch-off tickets as a security feature and to let players check to see if they won. But the bar codes were added at a cost of about $398,000 without going through the proper channels in state government, the report said.

Bethea said that was caused by a miscommunication and quickly addressed by staff when discovered. State law requires management audits of the lottery every three years, according to the AP.

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