Winners and Losers

Lottery operator Gtech was especially kind to the political friends of Texas Comptroller John Sharp. But when supervision of the company was moved from Sharp's office, the party was over.

But Logans contends the comptroller's office never learned of a significant number of contract violations in Houston. He says the supervisory staff in his office actually designed a computer program to monitor how often the retailers were visited and it was clear that the violations were occurring on a wider scale than just Houston, and that they were not being reported to the state, which would have then penalized Gtech.

"We weren't servicing people the way we were supposed to, and Gtech wasn't paying fines to the state like they were supposed to for lost revenue. They had the computer capacity to do this from the beginning. It was something they didn't have an incentive to do." Logans says the computer program was eventually ditched in Houston after he was dismissed.

Gtech spokesman Robert Rendine dismisses Logans' claims, suggesting that Logans is simply seeking revenge for his firing. "People say funny things when they've been fired for breaches of company policy," the spokesman says. "These types of comments are not unexpected in these situations."

(Logans was escorted out of his Houston office and dismissed a year after he was hired. Gtech officials accused him of taking approximately $800 in refunds on overpayments from a caterer hired for a Gtech Christmas Party in 1992. Logans denies the accusation and says he was ousted because he had raised too many questions about the company's procedures. One employee allegedly told Gtech a co-worker had given the money to Logans. According to Logans' lawyer, Rodney Brisco, the second worker has now repudiated an unsigned statement implicating Logans. Rendine refuses to comment on the dismissal other than to claim it was for serious breach of company policy. In any case, no charges were ever filed against Logans.)

Tom Hicks, another former Gtech employee, backs Logans' statements about the lottery operations in the Houston area.

"Right from the opening of the lottery it was blundered. We had approximately 2,800 retailers in the Houston district. It was obvious that retailers were not being serviced. Retailers called us, called the state lottery. We were finding retailers not on routes, retailers on routes not being serviced."

The mismanagement was widespread and cost the state money, Hicks contends. "It just amazed me to watch a company lose millions of dollars for their client and know they were doing it and do nothing about it," he says. "They were supposed to be monitoring every individual retailer from their computer in Austin to find out if that retailer was being visited and serviced. They never did that. They would install stuff that never did anything. They had the lights but none of the electronics behind it."

Gtech spokesman Rendine replies: "We undergo very serious and comprehensive oversight on a contractual basis. We live by that. I have no idea who Mr. Hicks is or what he's talking about. We stand by our contractual obligations."

Toward the end of his employment, Hicks says Gtech officials Larry King and Diedre Spencer questioned him about the situation in Houston. "They asked me why people were saying the job wasn't being done right. I explained to them that you have the responsibility of visiting these retailers and facilitating them to do their job right and sell as many tickets as possible so that the revenue goes to the state and the state pays them. Half the people we have are political hires and think they don't have to work. We had people who did absolutely nothing who got paid for it. And it was costing this company and the state government millions of dollars."

Hicks was eventually dropped from the company roster, going on disability for a back injury he incurred at a warehouse. He was also involved in a traffic accident in which a company van he was driving was broadsided by another vehicle. Like Logans, he claims his dismissal was really provoked by his outspokenness about the lottery problems in Houston. Like Logans, he has retained Houston lawyer Rodney Brisco, but has not filed suit against Gtech.

Brisco, who also represents a third former Gtech worker, accuses the lottery giant of operating with "an apparent feeling of immunity."

"They seem to act in a manner consistent with the belief that they are above the law," adds the lawyer. "Maybe they feel that way because of their connections to government in states and countries around the world."

Gtech spokesman Rendine says he's confident Logans' comments and lawsuit will be discredited.

"As you know, there's litigation involved in that," Rendine says. "I can only tell you that he was dismissed for serious breach of company policy. Unfortunately, while I would like to tell you the very serious reason, I'm forbidden because of legal action in this matter."

John Sharp chose not to make himself available for an interview, but a spokesman, Andy Welch, initially denied that Sharp's office provided Gtech with lists of recommended hires. After Welch was apprised of some of the statements by Sharp political allies who were offered jobs, he presented a slightly different version of events, saying that since Gtech was unfamiliar with the lay of the land in Texas, Sharp had suggested some people who might be interested in working for the company and said, "If you wanna go find 'em, find 'em. If you want to hire them, hire them."

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