Lottery chief’s letter draws ire
The Connecticut Lottery Corp.’s new president and CEO, Gregory Smith, was hired this past July amid hopes of a fresh start for the agency that was hit by a million-dollar mistake in a Jan. 1 drawing, after enduring two years of turmoil following a fraud scandal that shut down the 5 Card Cash game in 2015.
But Smith has quickly been drawn into a controversy stemming from those very same problems — after writing a letter to two key state legislators in which he defended the lottery agency for actions that were taken before he arrived in Connecticut.
Smith sent a letter Tuesday to Senate Republican leader Len Fasano and Rep. Joe Verrengia, co-chairman of the General Assembly committee that oversees the lottery, telling them that a Nov. 2 report by state auditors John Geragosian and Rob Kane left out “key details” in its description of circumstances surrounding a million-dollar error in a drawing last Jan. 1.
“(W)e feel that it is important to provide some additional information so that actions can be better understood and clarity can be provided where key details are missing,” Smith wrote. Among the details he mentioned were that Alfred W. DuPuis — the former lottery security chief who retired Nov. 1 rather than face potential discipline for alleged “gross neglect” in the flawed New Year’s Super Draw — had indeed made “clear errors in executing his responsibilities.”
“We hope these are beneficial to your understanding of the matter,” Smith wrote to Fasano and Verrengia.
They weren’t beneficial, Fasano said.
The Senate GOP leader — who has been an active participant in investigative hearings by Verrengia’s public safety committee about the lottery since 2017 — said he wondered why the newly arrived Smith would think it’s a good idea to carry such an amount of water for those who preceded him; he was head of the Illinois lottery at the time of the problems the Connecticut auditors wrote about.
“The auditors did a report. They are a nonpartisan staff that does excellent work, and the Lottery Corporation has to accept this report and take their criticism and make changes. I am not interested in excuses,”
Fasano told Government Watch in a phone interview Wednesday.
Fasano noted that he and Verrengia had asked the auditors to investigate the Jan. 1 drawing disaster, as well as DuPuis’ claim that he was being singled out for retaliation over his reporting of problems in the 5 Card Cash game that had to be shut down because of retailer fraud in 2015. And he called it “insulting” that Smith wrote a letter on behalf of