WEST PALM BEACH -- Timothy Poole is a Florida Lottery millionaire who's not going to be featured on promotional advertising.
Last week, shortly after the Florida Lottery posted the smiling photo of the Mount Dora cab driver holding up an oversized $3 million check to represent his winnings from the Super Millions scratch-off game, the lottery removed Poole's photo from its website.
The reason: It turns out that Poole's photo is also on a Florida website that lists the state's sexual predators.
Poole, 43, spent three years in a Florida prison for failing to show up for counseling following his arrest for sexual battery on two 9-year-old boys more than a decade ago, according to news accounts.
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It's not the first time that the Florida Lottery has turned child sex offenders into millionaires.
In 2007, Edward Cowal, of Hutchinson Island, was the sole winner in a $14 million Florida Lotto drawing. Twelve years earlier, Cowal had been arrested and convicted for exposing and fondling himself in front of an adult and four children at a beach in Jensen Beach.
At the time, then-Florida Lottery Secretary Leo DiBenigno stated that there's nothing stopping sex offenders from winning lottery jackpots.
"If the law changes and says we need to check other databases or someone's criminal background, we'll do it," he said. "But right now, we don't. If you're over 18, you can win."
That's still the case in Florida.
Sex offenders have won big in other states, too.
In Massachusetts, Daniel Snay, a man with six convictions for indecent assault and battery on children, won a $10 million lottery jackpot in 2008.
Snay got arrested again this year for another case of child molestation, and detectives say he used his wealth to help lure his latest victim.
There was some legislative rumbling after his arrest about barring child molesters in that state from winning lottery jackpots, but nothing has come of it so far.
And I can see why.
If you bar sex offenders from playing the lottery, then reasonable people will ask, "Why not stop murderers and rapists from playing, too?"
The next thing you know, some legislator looking to make a name for himself will propose that it's foolish to discriminate between the various serious crimes, and that the best thing to do would be to ban all felons from winning the lottery.
And once that happens, boom, there goes a healthy chunk of funding for public school education.
Florida can't afford to lose such a big base of its lottery players.
There are about 1.5 million felons in Florida who are out of prison and living among us. That's about one out of every 10 Florida adults.
And now that two Florida sex offenders have become millionaires through the lottery, I wouldn't be surprised by a burst of sales among the state's ex-convicts.
After all, if a sex offender can get rich, the argument that a divine presence is keeping a close eye on human affairs has been temporarily rendered moot.
Clearly, punishment is not being dealt out from above.
And with such good karma in evidence for child sex offenders, the relatively benign burglars may start imagining themselves as winners of $30 million jackpots.
Come to think of it, maybe the financially sound decision here for Florida Lottery officials is to put Poole's big-check photo back up on the website.
Frank Cerabino, who writes for The Palm Beach Post, can be reached at email@example.com.