CINCINNATI – Every once in a while, somebody tries to cheat the blind operator of a deli in the Hamilton County Courthouse even though security cameras are trained on the cash register and there are about a dozen sheriff's deputies a few steps away.
Twice in the past two weeks, Kent Parker was handed a $1 bill by someone who said it was a $10 bill. Both times, a woman was arrested within minutes.
"I have a lot of friends who watch out for me," said Parker, 43, who has been operating the Courthouse Deli for eight years. "Besides, the cameras catch the whole thing."
Sometimes Parker can tell if a customer is acting suspiciously.
"They test me, hand me money, seeing if I know what it is," he said. "I don't see at all, but there are tricks to the trade."
One is to simply lay the bill on the counter and ask one of his three employees to verify it. But not until the customer turns away.
"I don't want to insult anybody by making them think I'm doubting them," Parker said.
Parker said people try to scam him with the wrong bill about three times a year.
On Monday, a witness saw one such transaction and reported it, and Mary Cayze, 19, of suburban Mount Healthy, was arrested about 10 minutes later outside a courtroom. On April 24, LaTonya Browner, 39, of Cincinnati, was arrested in a similar situation.
Both were charged with theft, the sheriff said. When a theft victim is impaired, a charge that usually is a misdemeanor is elevated to a felony.
"I don't know why people think they can get away with it," Parker said. "And for $9, it's just not worth it. Maybe I just look like an easy mark."