Woman Hit With Embezzlement Charges for 20-Year-Old Overdue VHS Tape Rental

Illustration for article titled Woman Hit With Embezzlement Charges for 20-Year-Old Overdue VHS Tape Rental
Photo: Kazuhiro Nogi (Getty Images)

My how we’ve forgotten what a big deal late fees used to be. In 1999, an Oklahoman woman rented a VHS tape of the then-hit sitcom, Sabrina the Teenage Witch. About two decades later, that VHS tape has come back to haunt her, after her failure to return it ended up branding her record with felony embezzlement charges.

Advertisement

Caron McBride, now living in Texas, first learned about the charges after heading to a local DMV to change her name on her driver’s license after getting married. She explained to KOKH, a local Fox News affiliate, that the DMV alerted her about an “issue” she had back in her home state: charges accusing her of felony embezzlement of rented property back in 2000. McBride would later tell the station that she (understandably) didn’t even remember renting the movie in the first place.

“I mean, I didn’t try to deceive anyone over Samantha (Sabrina) the Teenage Witch. I swear,” McBride said.

Court records shared with KOKH showed that the VHS tape was rented at a video rental spot in Norman, Oklahoma that’s been shuttered since 2008. At the time, prosecutors claimed she “willfully, unlawfully, and feloniously embezzle[d]” the tape after she didn’t return the VHS after the 10-day deadline that was on her rental agreement. According to the docket, that tape was—at the time—worth just under $60. (Yes, the price for rental tapes was very high in the ‘90s.)

Arguably, one of the cruelest twists here is that McBride herself probably wasn’t even the person that rented the video—she explained to KOKH that the likely culprit was a man she was living with at the time and his two daughters.

“I have never watched that show in my entire life, just not my cup of tea,” she said. Meanwhile, over the past two decades, she said that she was let go from “several jobs” with no reason given. Now, she assumes that the felony embezzlement charges on her background checks might have something to do with it.

Naturally, the show’s former stars have weighed in on the case. Melissa Joan Hart, who played the titular witch, simply shared a screenshot of the news to her Instagram alongside a shrugging emoji. Other actresses like Caroline Rhea (who played Sabrina’s aunt Hilda) chimed in with their support for McBride.

Advertisement

Thankfully, there is a happy ending here. The Cleveland Court where McBride’s case was initially filed was ordered to drop the charges and expunge her record, KOKH reported this past Friday.

I cover the business of data for Gizmodo. Send your worst tips to swodinsky@gizmodo.com.

DISCUSSION

imadifferentbird
I'm A Different Bird

“Embezzlement” seems like an odd charge for failing to return a rented videotape. And I have a hard time understanding why it would be a felony for a tape that would have been worth $60 at most. That’s just weird.

And I think she’s right about the charges causing problems with her employment. “Embezzlement” usually means stealing from one’s employer, and it being felony level implies a large amount. If I’m hiring people and I see that on someone’s background check, I’d go no farther with that person. Seriously, that likely fucked her for years.