Sunday, January 11, 2004

The whole truth can help you clear your conscience

Unredeemable ticket

By Byron McCauley
The Cincinnati Enquirer

You don't have to be a famous athlete or a wayward politician to get caught in a big lie. Just ask Elecia Battle of Cleveland.

She told a big lie in a spurious try to claim the $162 Mega Millions jackpot last week.

Many of us initially felt pity for Battle, who said she lost the winning ticket - especially because a winner was slow to come forward. When Rebecca Jemison, also of Cleveland, showed up the with real ticket and a receipt from the store where she bought it, Battle filed a suit, trying to claim a piece of the prize. Eventually, with no evidence to back up her story, she confessed the lie and dropped the suit.

Battle said she wanted the jackpot so badly, she made up the story about dropping her purse on the parking lot of a convenience store and losing the ticket. She told police the winning numbers coincided with birthdays of her relatives. "I wanted to win so bad for my kids and family," she told reporters in apologizing Wednesday.

Even if she had lost the ticket, state law would have let the finder keep the money.

Meanwhile, police are considering charging Battle with filing a false police report, which could end up costing her money - $1,000 and prison time. Police have said charges are necessary to maintain the integrity of the Ohio Lottery.

But let's give Battle, who has a criminal record that includes assault on a drug store clerk and misuse of another person's credit card, a chance to redeem herself.

Here's a better solution. Since Ohio lottery profits go toward an education fund, how about having a contrite Battle explain to students some of the pitfalls of lottery playing, and on the importance of always telling the truth?

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