The Defense that Overwhelmed Its Crime
The theft of $4,000 from a Choctaw casino in Oklahoma led to a legal defense worthy of a larger heist.
In 2010, Kerry Raina Bryant had won 90 cents playing the dollar slots at the casino, and was cashed out by her sister (and later co-defendant) who paid her $4,000.91, later splitting the proceeds with her.
She was convicted of the theft and appealed January 5 to the U.S. 10th Circuit Court of Appeals, which upheld her conviction, two-year term of supervised probation, and restitution.
The transaction was all on camera, but that didn’t stop Bryant from crafting a creative defense.
First, she contended the law was against employee theft at an Indian gaming establishment and it would not apply to her because she was not a casino employee.
Then she acknowledged an aiding and abetting law would apply, but since it applied to crimes against the United States, it wasn’t relevant in her case because the Choctaw tribe “is not the United States.”
The court, however, was unconvinced. Among other things, it insisted that there had been a crime against the U.S. because the crime was against a gaming establishment licensed by the National Indian Gaming Association and located on territory “subject to the jurisdiction of the United States.”