The directory of the California lottery is in hot water. Because evidence has come forward that he has abused money to give his team lavish parties and gag gifts, Hugo Lopez has resigned from his high-paying job. He was the director of the California State Lottery since 2015 and made ample use of the constant influx of cash to give himself and his closest associates the time of their lives after promising to put the money into education and other useful initiatives.
Because an anonymous lottery employee was outraged at the excess going on at the office, they wrote a letter to then-Governor Jerry Brown, which included photographic evidence of Hugo Lopez’s teams lewd and unprofessional behavior.
In one particular image, a manager is shown stuffing his head up a female worker’s blouse while partying at a piano bar with a group of senior state Lottery leaders in 2016.
“These types of unprofessional shenanigans have become a regular practice of this management team when they travel to meetings,” the anonymous letter read. The letter was written on lottery stationery as a way to prove a connection to the organization.
The anonymous letter launched an investigation into Hugo Lopez’s team as well as an audit. That’s when it became clear that under Lopez’s leadership, the Lottery employees stole upwards of $300,000 in the form of questionable spending.
For example, the auditors found that Lopez and his team of hooligans spent $14,065 on baseball caps, an additional $15,740 on duffel bags, not to mention the $21,666 on gag gifts for staff members that included branded lip balms.
Lottery officials listed these gift items as “learning aids” and “training tools,” which is quite a stretch for baseball hats.
However, Hugo Lopez knew that his days were numbered when the truth came out about the illicit activity he had endorsed while he was the director of the California State Lottery.
Now many people are demanding that Lopez face criminal charges or repay the government for the money he used inappropriately. Whether or not that would be a possibility will be a matter for the courts to decide.
One employee spent the company’s money to the tune of $600 for hotel accommodations. However, this employee lived six miles from the event. Nevertheless, the Lottery was happy to pay for accommodations for this privileged employee.
“Lottery management’s lenient oversight and disregard for policies and procedures allowed for more than $300,000 in prohibited and questionable costs,” state Controller Betty Yee wrote in her official statement in April after the audit was concluded. “Clearly, Lottery management needs to overhaul its internal controls and enforce state policies.”
California Lottery’s management agreed with Yee’s report. They released a document saying, “Lottery Sales Division management could have done a better job tracking and documenting expenses and minimizing administrative errors.”
Although Hugo Lopez has stepped down, it might be a while until the managers at the California Lottery learn how to behave.
This is a blatant abuse of power. What do you think should be done to protect state money from being misused like this?
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