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Archive for Thursday, September 28, 2000

Lottery chief gives up new job

Greg Ziemak won’t lead Connecticut Lottery

September 28, 2000

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— Gregory Ziemak, the embattled head of the Kansas Lottery, on Wednesday rescinded his acceptance of the job of president and chief executive officer of the Connecticut Lottery Corp.

The decision came after widespread publicity in Connecticut about Ziemak's problems in Kansas, which include a scandal involving the theft of lottery jackpots and the release of a photograph that showed Ziemak standing with female lottery workers who were wearing bras on their heads.

"I feel it is best for all concerned, including the Connecticut Lottery Corporation, for me to withdraw from consideration," Ziemak, a Lawrence resident, said in a release by the Lottery Corp.

A criminal investigation in Kansas that began in March resulted in criminal charges this month against a former lottery employee, Richard Lee Knowlton. He is accused of altering tickets and computer records to steal nearly $63,000.

Knowlton has admitted he had altered a dozen tickets but claimed he was conducting his own investigation because he had discovered that more than 100 others had been altered by someone else. He said he investigated on his own "based on numerous cover-ups and other apparent illegal activity by lottery administration that I was aware of over the last two to three years."

Ziemak wasn't a target of the investigation, but some Kansas legislators suggest the case raises questions about his management style.

Further questions were raised after the photo of Ziemak and four female lottery workers was posted on the Internet. The lottery workers involved said they wore the bras on their heads as a joke, but Ziemak's critics cited the photo as an example of inappropriate behavior at the lottery.

"Maintaining the public's confidence is the Lottery's primary concern," said Paul Corey, the chairman of the Connecticut Lottery Corp.'s board of directors. "The acceptance by the board (of Ziemak's withdrawal) is done with the future and best interests of the Connecticut Lottery Corp. firmly in mind."

Ziemak, a Manchester, Conn., native, spent 18 years in the Lottery Unit of the Connecticut Division of Special Revenue before being replaced as unit chief by then-Gov. Lowell Weicker Jr. in 1991.

He was named head of the Kansas lottery in 1993 by then-Gov. Joan Finney, a Democrat. Ziemak, 52, stayed when Republican Gov. Bill Graves took office in January 1995. He plans to leave that job Oct. 1.

Ziemak has cited as one of his biggest accomplishments in Kansas a 26 percent increase in lottery sales in seven years. Sales for the 12 months ending June 30 were more than $192 million.

Ziemak was to replace George Wandrak, who resigned as the Connecticut Lottery Corp.'s president and CEO in April. James Vance, appointed by the board in April to serve as acting president, will continue to head the organization until the board can "determine an appropriate course of action regarding the vacancy," Corey said.

Calls by The Associated Press to Ziemak's home went unanswered Wednesday.

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