FBI agents investigating the D.C. Lottery Board are trying to determine if there is a connection between board member Lillian C. Wiggins' cash purchase of a $4,000 fur coat and a $5,000 check cashed the same day by the principal owner of the company that does the advertising for the city's lottery games, according to sources familiar with the investigation.
Teresa Suter, the majority stockholder in the advertising firm, LaMancha Inc., met Wiggins at Rosendorf-Evans furriers the day Wiggins bought the coat and helped her pick it out, Wiggins has told The Washington Post. Wiggins said Suter met her at the furrier's downtown Washington store because Suter and another LaMancha official were to have lunch with her that day.
Wiggins said that after she and Suter looked at coats they went to lunch with the other LaMancha official. Later that same day, Wiggins said, she returned to Rosendorf-Evans alone and bought the coat.
Wiggins, who said she paid for the coat with her own money, said FBI agents asked her about the coat when they interviewed her last month. The FBI subsequently seized the coat, which was purchased late last December, according to sources familiar with the investigation.
Sources said the $5,000 check was issued on a LaMancha corporate account, was made out to Teresa Suter and endorsed by her.
Teresa Suter was not available for comment. Her husband, William N. (Billy) Suter III, said their lawyers had advised them not to answer any questions because of the pending investigations.
An attorney for LaMancha, who said Teresa Suter had authorized him to speak on her behalf, said the $5,000 check was a bonus given to her and that it was one of several bonuses for similar amounts that the company gave last December to senior management officials.
The attorney, who declined to identify the names of other LaMancha employes who he said received bonuses, said Teresa Suter did not give any of the $5,000 to Wiggins.
Gary Kohlman, an attorney for Wiggins, said that "at the appropriate time and in the appropriate setting we remain confident that Lil will be able to explain the circumstances surrounding the purchase of the coat and will be able to demonstrate that nothing improper was done."
Kohlman said it is unfair that information about the coat's purchase has "leaked out in a piecemeal fashion."
The $5,000 check made out to Teresa Suter was discovered by the D.C. inspector general's office during an audit it is conducting of LaMancha, which has received nearly $3 million in advertising revenues from the lottery board.
The inspector general's office has turned over information about the check to the FBI, which is conducting a separate investigation of the lottery board.
The federal officials are trying to determine if any payoffs or gifts were given in connection with the award of multimillion-dollar contracts to run various aspects of the city's legal lottery games, sources said.
The FBI is also investigating whether board members may have provided inside information and other assistance to companies that won lottery contracts, sources said.
The U.S. attorney's office has confirmed that there is a federal investigation and that it is focusing on two lottery board members.
Sources familiar with the investigation have said the FBI is looking into the activities of Wiggins and lottery board member Jerry S. Cooper.
Cooper said the FBI told him he is not a target of the investigation. Wiggins said she is not aware if she is a target.
Sources said that, among other things, investigators are looking into an allegation that Cooper was given a Cadillac by an official of a company that received a lottery board contract.
In an interview with The Post last week, Cooper said the FBI recently questioned him in the presence of his attorney and asked him whether he had a Cadillac. Cooper said he told the agents he drove a blue Cadillac last winter that is owned by his sister.
"I drove it during the winter while she was in the Virgin Islands," Cooper said, adding that he owns and normally drives a 1976 Dodge Aspen. Cooper said the FBI did not ask him whether the Cadillac was given to him by a lottery board contractor.
Cooper's and Wiggins' terms on the lottery board expired in June, but they are continuing to serve until their replacements are confirmed by the City Council, which is expected to act this week on Mayor Marion Barry's nominees, John W. Posey, a University of the District of Columbia official, and Alice Thompkins Davis, a Howard University alumni official.
Barry moved to replace Wiggins and Cooper after they resisted his efforts to influence their decision on a key lottery contract to run the daily numbers game.
The board has awarded two major contracts since it began operating last year; one to run the instant lottery game and another to operate the daily numbers game.
In the instant lottery game, which began a year ago, players scratch the surfaces of $1 tickets to determine immediately if they are winners.
During the first year of the instant lottery game, the board hired a joint venture composed of Games Production Inc. (GPI) and Scientific Games Inc. to provide tickets and advertise the game, in addition to distributing tickets and overseeing the game's day-to-day operations.
Teresa Suter's husband, William N. Suter III, is the chief executive officer and one-third owner of GPI. GPI, in turn, has hired LaMancha to do the instant lottery's advertising. Teresa Suter owns a majority of LaMancha's stock and helps run the firm.
LaMancha also has been hired to advertise the new daily numbers game by the company hired by the board to manage it, Lottery Technology Enterprises.
Earlier this year, GPI and Scientific Games, an Atlanta-based company, had a much publicized falling out after a top official of Scientific Games criticized GPI for alleged mismanagement and financial irregularities, particularly with regard to the city lottery revenues disbursed to LaMancha for advertising.
GPI and LaMancha officials have strongly denied Scientific Games' statements.
The inspector general's office subsequently began its audit into LaMancha's handling of the lottery advertising revenues, and a report is expected soon.
The board is studying the feasibility of taking over the management of the instant lottery game next year. Regardless of the outcome of that decision, the board voted last week to award a separate contract to print tickets for next year's instant games. Capital Gaming Inc., a new D.C. company, was chosen by the board from the three firms seeking the contract.
Capital Gaming's officers are three people affiliated with GPI: William N. Suter III, GPI general manager Gloria Decker and GPI lawyer Joanne Fort. Capital Gaming in turn has hired Webcraft Inc. of New Jersey, a national lottery ticket manufacturer, to print the tickets.
Late last week, Scientific Games, which was one of the other companies also seeking the new ticket contract, filed a formal protest and asked the lottery board to rescind its selection of Capital Gaming. The board has not yet acted on Scientific Games' request. CAPTION: Picture, Lottery Board member Lillian Wiggins paid $4,000 cash to buy coat. By Vanessa Barnes Hillian -- The Washington Post