July 19, 2005
Finding the dark lining in a silver cloud

Awhile back, I noted that the Lottery Commission had gutted its security division, then tried to cover that fact up. This is the sort of work that the Lottery investigators did.

A former employee of the Texas Lottery Commission has been indicted for allegedly defrauding retailers, including one in Houston, who applied to become Texas Lottery vendors.

The indictment charges Taneil Gage with one count of theft by a public servant of more than $500 but less than $1,500. The offense is a state jail felony punishable by up to two years behind bars.

The alleged scam in June and July 2003 preyed on retailers who didn't meet minimum credit ratings, said Mindy McCracken, assistant Travis County district attorney in the public integrity unit.


The lottery commission became suspicious when a certified letter sent to a potential vendor was returned unopened, according to McCracken.

McCracken credits former lottery investigator Charlie Brune, now an investigator at the Texas Department of Transportation's motor vehicle division and a former Texas Ranger, with quickly cracking the case.

"The investigators on this case did a great job. I know the lottery's getting some bad press lately, but on his watch, they did a good job," McCracken said.

However, since that scam was discovered, the agency's security division has been reduced. The number of commissioned law officers was slashed from 35 to four and investigative field offices were closed in a reorganization in November.

Nice work, Mister Brune. I hope the folks at TxDOT appreciate your knowledge and experience more than the TLC did.

Posted by Charles Kuffner on July 19, 2005 to Jackpot! | TrackBack