Friday, September 15, 2017

Pennsylvania in focus: When retailers win lottery prizes with luck that defies belief, could officials be turning a blind eye?

By Watchdog News - September 15, 2017 at 09:00AM

The Patriot News: When retailers win lottery prizes with luck that defies belief, could officials be turning a blind eye?

Some Pennsylvanians seem to have luck that defies belief.

That’s according to a PennLive analysis that found more than 200 people have claimed at least 50 Pennsylvania Lottery tickets worth $600 or more between 2000 and 2016 – a feat that, in many cases, is statistically improbable.

In past cases where frequent lottery winning has been probed, investigators have sometimes found it rooted in crime: from theft of winning tickets and cheating to schemes used to facilitate tax evasion and money laundering.

The Pennsylvania Lottery says, however, it hasn’t investigated any of its top 10 most frequent winners.

And as PennLive found, that lack of curiosity appears to extend to its retailers.

Based on an analysis of lottery claims and business records, PennLive identified more than a dozen frequent winners who are either lottery retailers, former retailers or have clear connections to retailers.

Of those players, the Pennsylvania Lottery confirmed it hadn’t investigated any of their wins beyond routine prize and store reviews.

NBC Philadelphia: Pennsylvania Still Going Broke Friday, Missed Payments Likely

Pennsylvania will go broke Friday and the state treasurer says he would not bail out the state again as it faces the ignominious distinction of failing to pay all its bills for the first time.

The state’s general fund will run dry following more than two months of failed efforts in the General Assembly to close a $2.2 billion budget deficit.

The first bill that will not be fully paid is a roughly $2 billion Medicaid payment to eight medical insurance providers, officials said.

For weeks, Treasurer Joe Torsella has warned state lawmakers that the general fund would run out of money Sept. 15. He previously issued a short-term loan to allow the government to meet its financial obligations through August. But he said more recently he would not issue another loan through what is called the Short-Term Investment Program (STIP).

Pittsburgh Post-Gazette: Mt. Lebanon capital campaign fundraising program questioned

After the financial viablility of the Mt. Lebanon School District Capital Campaign was questioned by several school board members, changes have been proposed for the fundraising program, including providing monthly spreadsheets to the board, making information available to the public, and revising objectives and contribution goals.

Developed in 2013 by the school board, the capital campaign was designed to provide a way for individuals, groups and companies to make private donations to be used for capital projects and special programs.

But the campaign has fallen far short of its original goal to raise $6 million and instead has been operating in the red in the past several years, board members learned during a heated meeting Monday.

“This was a new endeavor for school districts. This wasn’t something we’d ever undertaken,” superintendent Timothy Steinhauer told board members, most of whom weren’t on the board in 2013.

Mr. Steinhauer was asked to prepare a presentation for the board after several members last month refused to approve new expenditures from the campaign until questions about funding were answered.