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up arrow The Number of the Beast

sixOn April 24, 1980 the Maragos Brothers, Peter and Jack, walked into a Philadelphia bar with a platinum-blonde and a fistful of dollars. While Peter wagered large sums of money on the Pennsylvania lottery, Jack spoke loudly in a foreign  language on a pay phone near the bar. At one point, he turned the phone toward his brother so it could capture the sound of the lottery machine as it printed daily number tickets.

This struck the bartender as odd.

That night Nick Perry was working the Pennsylvania lottery as an on-camera announcer. The first drawing was the daily number. “Six,”  Perry said as a ball was selected on the first machine. And now the second  number: “Six,” he said. Finally the third number matched the other two. Six-six-six was one of the numbers the Maragos Brothers wagered a lot of money on.

Nick Perry was born Nicholas Pericles Katsafanas, a son of Greek immigrants. He spoke the language fluently. So did Jack Maragos. It was the language he used on the pay phone in that Philadelphia bar. The bartender started to put two-and-two together and alerted authorities. Nick Perry and the Maragos brothers had rigged the Pennsylvania lottery.

Perry enlisted the help of WTAE art director Joseph Bock who created weighted ping-pong balls to use in the drawing. Bock weighted all the balls except four and six. In Philadelphia, the Maragos Brothers bet every combination of those numbers: 444, 446, 464, 466, 644, 646, 664, and 666. It was the devil’s own number that delivered that day.

Now Eddie Raymond Tipton appears to be walking in Nick Perry’s footsteps. The former information-security director of the Multi-State Lottery Association is accused of tampering with the lottery. As a condition of employment, Tipton was not allowed to play the lottery but on Dec. 23, 2010 he appears to have done exactly that. Tipton was filmed buying a ticket at a QuikTrip convenience store. That night, his number hit. The ticket was suddenly worth $14.3 million dollars.

Iowa authorities accused Tipton of using his privileged position to tamper with the machine. According to them, he inserted a thumb drive with altered the random number generator and allowed him to control the outcome. Good stuff.

His trial is now under way….