THIS PAGE | E-MAIL THIS PAGE
Wednesday, July 23, 1997
Former banker sues state over lottery forgery
HOUSTON (AP) - A former banker who says she wrongfully was
convicted of forgery after she found a lottery ticket on a downtown
street is suing the state, claiming the ordeal cost her her job,
her husband and relationships with relatives.
Patsy Bolander, whose conviction was overturned last year,
blames the state, lottery officials and the Harris County district
attorney's office for negligence in her arrest and conviction.
She and her ex-husband are seeking $1 million in punitive damages
and about $500,000 in actual damages for her lost wages and legal
Ms. Bolander, 58, says her nightmare began June 4, 1992, when
she found a scratch-off lottery ticket that revealed symbols indicating
it was a $10,000 winner.
She says she took the ticket to the bank where she worked and
showed it to at least two other bank officials, all of them trained
to detect forged documents. No one saw signs of tampering, she
Ms. Bolander was arrested and jailed for forgery after presenting
the ticket at a lottery claims center. Investigators said the
second $10,000 symbol obviously was cut from another ticket and
clumsily pasted over another symbol.
Ms. Bolander, a mother of three who had been married for 18
years, was convicted of lottery forgery and sentenced to 10 years'
probation. She was fired from her job at BankOne and denied retirement
and other benefits. She and her husband, Noel, were divorced last
Ms. Bolander's lawsuit accuses the state of negligence in the
hiring and supervision of Lottery Commission investigator Tom
Hedrick, who was accused of giving erroneous testimony as the
state's only witness at Ms. Bolander's trial.
The lawsuit accuses prosecutors of violating Ms. Bolander's
rights by failing to confirm Hedrick's information with other
witnesses or conduct an independent investigation.
A judge granted Ms. Bolander a new trial after another Lottery
Commission employee supported key points of her account. The district
attorney's office dismissed the case for insufficient evidence.
Defendants in the lawsuit include the state, the state comptroller's
office, former Lottery Commission Director Norma Linares, prosecutor
Kim Whittington and supervisor Karen Morris.
Prosecutor Stephen Smith said the allegations are without merit
and that his legal research shows prosecutors are shielded by
virtual unlimited immunity against civil suits.
State District Judge Dwight Jefferson granted a defense motion
Monday that the district attorney's office cannot legally be a
defendant. Alden Holford, Ms. Bolander's lawyer, said he will
ask the judge to reconsider or he will refile the case and name
Harris County as a defendant instead. Send a Letter to
the Editor about This Story | Start or Join A Discussion about This Story
Abilene Reporter-News / Texnews / E.W. Scripps Publications
Send the URL (Address) of This Story
to A Friend:
the URL (Address) of This Story to A Friend: