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Click here for the full text of this decision FACTS:Edward Dwayne Doyle and two companions stopped at Luv’s Truck Stop in Luling. They played state lottery scratch-off games and Cherry Master vending machines, which are privately owned and which give winners tickets they can claim for merchandise. Doyle redeemed several tickets for a television and a VCR before leaving. Later that night, the assistant manager at Luv’s noticed that the lottery ticket machine was completely sold out of tickets, something that had never happened before. An inspection of the machine revealed that it had $1,261 less than it should, based on the number of tickets that had supposedly been sold. Also, a laminated $20 bill attached to a string or a strip of tape was found in the machine. Reviewing tape from the on-site surveillance camera, the manager saw Doyle redeeming his Cherry Master tickets. The next day, Doyle redeemed scratch-off lottery tickets at a K-mart in San Antonio. After he left the store, the clerk discovered that the scratch-off vending machine was jammed due to some tape in the rollers. The tape, it turned out, was attached to a laminated $1 bill. The following day, Doyle returned to Luv’s and played Cherry Master, where employees saw him retrieve both tickets and money from the machine, even though the machine did not give change. Doyle was stopped by police as he left Luv’s. A search of his vehicle yielded numerous lottery tickets, a laminated $20 bill and a laminated $1 bill, and a briefcase containing plastic laminate and fishing wire. Merchandise of the type that was redeemable for Cherry Master tickets was found in the vehicle, too. Doyle was charged with felony tampering with lottery equipment. He was convicted by a jury, pleaded true to an enhancement for prior felony convictions, and was sentenced to 10 years in prison, plus a $5,000 fine. On appeal, Doyle claims that while he may have used laminated money to get lottery tickets he hadn’t paid for, he had not “tampered with” with the lottery machines within the meaning of Government Code 466.309. HOLDING:Affirmed. Doyle proposes that the statutory construction rule “noscitur a sociis” which means that the coupling of words together shows that they are to be understood in the same sense be applied to 466.309. The court, however, finds that while “tampers with” is listed with such words as “damages” and “defaces” in the statute, its meaning is distinct and thus should not be absorbed or tempered by the other words in the list. The court notes that some types of conduct may render lottery equipment inoperable, but may not damage or deface the equipment. Furthermore, noscitur a sociis is a rule reserved for language that is ambiguous or obscure. Doyle also proposes that the statutory construction axiom “ejusdem generis” which means that when particular words of description are followed by general terms, the latter will be regarded as referring to things of a like class with those particularly described also be applied. The court finds this rule should not be applied, though, either, because this is not a case where there are particular terms that define more general terms. All of the terms used hear are equally general. Had the legislature intended “damages, defaces or renders inoperable” to define “tampers with,” they would have made it an offense to tamper with lottery equipment by damaging, defacing or rendering it inoperable. The court thus looks to the common meaning of “tampers with,” noting that while it is arguable whether Doyle altered the machine, it seems clear that he interfered improperly and meddled with it. “He certainly perverted or corrupted the purpose of the machine by forcing it to issue tickets without collecting funds. Additionally, a definition of”tampers with’ that is broad enough to include manipulation which interferes with the proper functioning of lottery equipment without physically damaging it is supported by the legislature’s use of the term in other statutes addressing similar offenses.” The court finds the term “tamper” is used in many statutes, including Penal Code 28.03, which the court finds to be most analogous. Under that statute, tampering includes conduct that does not disable or destroy equipment, but does subvert the purpose of the device: to assess charges for services rendered and products consumed. The court finds this interpretation consistent with case law from the Court of Criminal Appeals. “We hold that meddling with lottery machines in a way that subverts that process is tampering with lottery equipment in violation of Texas Government Code section 466.309 regardless of whether any lasting or physical alteration occurs. Furthermore, we hold that Doyle’s conduct rendered the lottery equipment inoperable by jamming the rollers with tape and emptying all the tickets in the machine.” OPINION:Smith, J.; Kidd, Smith and Pemberton, JJ.

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