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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. Hail to our Constitutional Law Expert in the Executive Office! “What you’re not paying attention to is the fact that I just took an action to change the law,” Obama said.

  2. What is this, the Ind Supreme Court thinking that there is a separation of powers and limited enumerated powers as delegated by a dusty old document? Such eighteen century thinking, so rare and unwanted by the elites in this modern age. Dictate to us, dictate over us, the massess are chanting! George Soros agrees. Time to change with times Ind Supreme Court, says all President Snows. Rule by executive decree is the new black.

  3. I made the same argument before a commission of the Indiana Supreme Court and then to the fedeal district and federal appellate courts. Fell flat. So very glad to read that some judges still beleive that evidentiary foundations matter.

  4. KUDOS to the Indiana Supreme Court for realizing that some bureacracies need to go to the stake. Recall what RWR said: "No government ever voluntarily reduces itself in size. Government programs, once launched, never disappear. Actually, a government bureau is the nearest thing to eternal life we'll ever see on this earth!" NOW ... what next to this rare and inspiring chopping block? Well, the Commission on Gender and Race (but not religion!?!) is way overdue. And some other Board's could be cut with a positive for State and the reputation of the Indiana judiciary.

  5. During a visit where an informant with police wears audio and video, does the video necessary have to show hand to hand transaction of money and narcotics?

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