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Woman Who Claimed $100 Note On Casino Floor Pursued For Theft

January 19th, 2010 Author:

Lena Mae Tibbs, 57, of Indianapolis had to endure a relentless campaign by Indiana Live! Casino to prosecute her for exercising unauthorized criminal control over a $100 bill found on the floor of their casino.

The incident took place on July 29, 2008, when Tibbs was gambling at the casino and a passer by spotted the $100 bill on the floor and asked her if it belonged to her. As Tibbs had other bills on her, she said she assumed she had dropped the money and so accepted it, and that’s when all her troubles began.

The casino then investigated video footage which seemed to indicate the money may have come from a slot machine, which had been spitting out money to a nearby winning player. Soon after, Indiana Live! Casino accused her of stealing the money and she was summoned to appear at Shelby Superior Court, but the case was dropped in September, when the woman who had been winning at the slot machine when the incident occurred did not want to pursue the charge.

Lena Mae Tibbs, who is black, was not pleased with being accused of stealing and so decided to sue the casino for their unfair accusation, the emotional distress she suffered, and said she believes she was also the victim of racial discrimination.  Attorney Blair Wheat, acting on behalf of Mrs Tibbs said:

“Lena was at a table and had money. The machine kicked a $100 bill within a couple feet of her. A third person asked if it was hers. She thought it was, and the next thing she knows, she was being prosecuted for a year.” 

Tibbs insisted that she believed the money had dropped from her hand, and never claimed or admitted to having discovered or retained money not her own. The outcome of the incident may throw up problems for casinos in future, as they decide whether someone was intending to take lost money. Shelby County Deputy Prosecutor David Riggins commented:

“Unless you wagered it, you can’t cash it in…She (Tibbs) had been charged because we felt she exerted unauthorized control over the $100 bill. Was it a case of finders keepers, losers weepers or something else? That would have been a question for the jury, but it didn’t go to trial.”

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2 Comments  
Comments
13th February 2014
Lee Girl

Several years ago at a casino in East Chicago, Indiana, a blackjack player asked the pit boss to remove me from the table for cursing. For clarification, I sat down with chips in my hand and wagered my bet at a vacant spot on the table. The aforementioned player got mad because I did not wait to get in the game. He kept jawing at me, and I asked him to leave me alone. Since he did not adhere to my kind asking, I used strong language so that he could leave me alone. The pit boss never observed me to see if I were using inappropriate language and the reason behind my using this language. She took this man’s word and called security on me. My scenario has elements of Ms. Tibbs’ fight: I’m a Black female, blackjack player a white male, and the pit boss a white female. Nothing came of it with the security, and security begged me to stay. However, security never yanked this white male from the table who initiated this whole thing. If there’s a spot on a blackjack table, any player has the right to sit down and play that spot. Sitting out while a player is winning is simply a courtesy and not a requirement. I emphatically told this casino’s security person that she had caused me embarrassment and humiliation and got my chips and left. I’ve witnessed racial disparity in casinos, and I believe that this $100 bill caused Ms. Tibbs hell back in 2008.

14th February 2014
Lee Girl

In furtherance to my February 13, 2014 posting, I wrote to the Indiana Gaming Commission regarding racial discrimination I incurred, and it never responded to me. Indiana’s on-the-premises gaming commissioners are jokes also. They vehemently defend their state’s casinos, and one would have to do what Ms. Tibbs did: Take your case to an outside tribunal. Lastly, even though this was years ago for Ms. Tibbs, kudos to your standing up for justice and your character. That overzealous prosecutor should have been forced to feel his or her wrong in the pockets also.