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Server’s electronic tip alteration is forgery, COA rules

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A Logan’s Roadhouse server who used a computer to alter the amount of tip a customer left for her on a credit card can be convicted of forgery, the Indiana Court of Appeals affirmed Thursday.

Customer Nicolette Lee noticed that her credit card had been charged $2 more than the amount she authorized after eating at Logan’s in November 2011. She called the restaurant, which credited her back the $2. Manager Chad Keefe discovered that several of server Lindsay Tatusko’s checks from that same day also contained discrepancies in the amount of tip left on the receipt and what Tatusko entered into the restaurant’s computer system. Keefe reported the incidents to police, and Tatusko was charged with and found guilty of Class C felony forgery and Class D felony theft.

In Lindsay Tatusko v. State of Indiana, 29A04-1208-CR-413, Tatusko claimed that the evidence that she submitted a different tip amount than that authorized by Lee into the computer system does not constitute a violation under the forgery statute.

“But we agree with the State that Lee’s bill was ‘not closed out and completed’ until Tatusko reviewed the credit card slip, entered the tip amount into the computer, and hit ‘authorize settle’ a second time,” Judge Edward Najam wrote.

“Here, had the entire transaction been conducted on paper, Tatusko would have had to change the tip amount in writing, which would have satisfied the elements of the forgery statute, even according to Tatusko. Just because she changed the tip amount electronically does not mean that her conduct falls outside of the statute.”

The COA also denied Tatusko’s claim that she was denied effective assistance of trial counsel when her attorney did not move the trial court to ask each remaining potential juror whether comments by Juror 34 had any affect on their ability to remain unbiased. During voir dire, Juror 34 said he had rented property to Tatusko and kicked her out for not paying bills on time. No one objected to the juror’s comments. Later, when the court asked all the prospective jurors as a group whether any could be biased against Tatusko, Juror 34 said “Yeah, I – since my relationship with her was not good … .” Juror 34 was then excused.

The COA found it to be reasonable to assume that the defense counsel’s strategy was to avoid drawing further attention to the juror’s comments.

 

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  1. Just an aside, but regardless of the outcome, I 'm proud of Judge William Hughes. He was the original magistrate on the Home place issue. He ruled for Home Place, and was primaried by Brainard for it. Their tool Poindexter failed to unseat Hughes, who won support for his honesty and courage throughout the county, and he was reelected Judge of Hamilton County's Superior Court. You can still stand for something and survive. Thanks, Judge Hughes!

  2. CCHP's real accomplishment is the 2015 law signed by Gov Pence that basically outlaws any annexation that is forced where a 65% majority of landowners in the affected area disagree. Regardless of whether HP wins or loses, the citizens of Indiana will not have another fiasco like this. The law Gov Pence signed is a direct result of this malgovernance.

  3. I gave tempparry guardship to a friend of my granddaughter in 2012. I went to prison. I had custody. My daughter went to prison to. We are out. My daughter gave me custody but can get her back. She was not order to give me custody . but now we want granddaughter back from friend. She's 14 now. What rights do we have

  4. This sure is not what most who value good governance consider the Rule of Law to entail: "In a letter dated March 2, which Brizzi forwarded to IBJ, the commission dismissed the grievance “on grounds that there is not reasonable cause to believe that you are guilty of misconduct.”" Yet two month later reasonable cause does exist? (Or is the commission forging ahead, the need for reasonable belief be damned? -- A seeming violation of the Rules of Profession Ethics on the part of the commission) Could the rule of law theory cause one to believe that an explanation is in order? Could it be that Hoosier attorneys live under Imperial Law (which is also a t-word that rhymes with infamy) in which the Platonic guardians can do no wrong and never owe the plebeian class any explanation for their powerful actions. (Might makes it right?) Could this be a case of politics directing the commission, as celebrated IU Mauer Professor (the late) Patrick Baude warned was happening 20 years ago in his controversial (whisteblowing) ethics lecture on a quite similar topic: http://www.repository.law.indiana.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1498&context=ilj

  5. I have a case presently pending cert review before the SCOTUS that reveals just how Indiana regulates the bar. I have been denied licensure for life for holding the wrong views and questioning the grand inquisitors as to their duties as to state and federal constitutional due process. True story: https://www.scribd.com/doc/299040839/2016Petitionforcert-to-SCOTUS Shorter, Amici brief serving to frame issue as misuse of govt licensure: https://www.scribd.com/doc/312841269/Thomas-More-Society-Amicus-Brown-v-Ind-Bd-of-Law-Examiners

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