Ohio Woman Charged After Claiming to Win Lottery and Causing Panic by Offering to Pay for Shopping Spree By Customers

logo_tileLinda Brown, 45, has been given a novel criminal charge. Brown entered a store and announced that she had won the lottery for $1.5 million and was going to pay for a shopping spree for everyone in the store. The result was pandemonium and a charge of aggravated menacing.

Brown reportedly arrived in a Hummer stretch limousine and actually charged several thousand dollars on her debit card before apparently reaching the card’s limit. Some witnesses said that she offered $500 for anyone in the store. That led to a rush on the store.

Police say that she induced a riot. Her payment of thousands of dollars on her credit card makes this particularly interesting. She lied about the lottery but did buy the first round of purchases. If she did win the lottery, would she still have been criminally charged for the panic if she was able to pay?

Stores are civilly liable for special sales or events that cause foreseeable injuries or deaths. However, this is a criminal charge for promising to pay for shoppers. Usually aggravated menacing is confined to different conduct. Here is the Ohio provision:

§ 2903.21. Aggravated menacing.

(A) No person shall knowingly cause another to believe that the offender will cause serious physical harm to the person or property of the other person, the other person’s unborn, or a member of the other person’s immediate family.

(B) Whoever violates this section is guilty of aggravated menacing. Except as otherwise provided in this division, aggravated menacing is a misdemeanor of the first degree. If the victim of the offense is an officer or employee of a public children services agency or a private child placing agency and the offense relates to the officer’s or employee’s performance or anticipated performance of official responsibilities or duties, aggravated menacing is a felony of the fifth degree or, if the offender previously has been convicted of or pleaded guilty to an offense of violence, the victim of that prior offense was an officer or employee of a public children services agency or private child placing agency, and that prior offense related to the officer’s or employee’s performance or anticipated performance of official responsibilities or duties, a felony of the fourth degree.

HISTORY: 134 v H 511 (Eff 1-1-74); 146 v S 239 (Eff 9-6-96); 148 v H 412. Eff 4-10-2001.

What do you think?

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8 thoughts on “Ohio Woman Charged After Claiming to Win Lottery and Causing Panic by Offering to Pay for Shopping Spree By Customers”

  1. I’ll have to look that up, disorderly conduct, for the full implication. But the criteria in A:
    § 2903.21. Aggravated menacing.

    (A) No person shall knowingly cause another to believe that the offender will cause serious physical harm to the person or property of the other person, the other person’s unborn, or a member of the other person’s immediate family.

    That doesn’t seem to fit at all. I know intent ‘follows the bullet’ but I don’t think she was after inciting a stampede. When someone is insane, but not legally insane (I usually disagree with a prosecutor’s view of that,) it’s hard to tell what the hell her intent was. What if she believed she won the lottery?
    Justice Sonya wasn’t the only one who fell in love with Perry Mason. I’m 5 years younger, but when I was 2, I told my father about my true love, and he said I would be first lady supreme court justice. So much for that. After working for lawyers, and following one class through to graduation at a law school, even assisting in teaching a class, I decided, first, I couldn’t afford to practice the law as I wanted, and secondly, I didn’t want to change into what normal human beings became after law school. Still, I could’ve gone for free 3 times, and even considering my illnesses, I wonder if I should have gone, if only for my mind.
    Instead, I quit, moved to Mexico, and had a blast teaching English and Statistics. As they say, “Life is what happens while you are making other plans.”

  2. Ohio Revised Code section 2917.11, Disorderly Conduct, seems a closer match to me. “no person shall recklessly cause inconvenience, annoyance, or alarm to another” by, for example, creating conditions that are offensive or potentially harmful to others. Like inciting a stampede to the cash register. But would this charge require actual intent or does the word “reckless” cover that? Inquiring minds, etc.

    Regardless, the woman was obviously a loony.

  3. I don’t get how that law applies at all. Isn’t there something more appropriate, like Fraud?

    Sounds to me like the woman is bipolar in a manic state.

  4. AY

    this is one of the many reasons I avoid shopping between halloween and superbowl sunday. I hate sales.
    doesn’t walmart usually advertize $15 wide screen tv’s causing people to be crushed by rioting sales seekers?

  5. So what would those after Thanksgiving sales be called. I would say day but they start at 3am in most places.

  6. I’m thinking panic is not the right word. Maybe try: excitement.

    Before you know it Al Qaïda will be brainstorming on how they could exploit this novelty in urban/suburban terrorism….

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