For years, Caron McBride never understood why she was spontaneously fired from jobs or why she had trouble landing a new one. But when she tried to change her last name on her Texas driver’s license earlier this month, she finally found out why.
“When they ran my criminal background check, all they’re seeing is those two words: felony embezzlement,” McBride, 52, told KOKH, which first reported her story. Her crime? Not returning a VHS copy of “Sabrina the Teenage Witch,” the ’90s sitcom starring Melissa Joan Hart, after renting it from a Norman, Okla., video store in 1999, according to court documents shared by KOKH.
On Friday, prosecutors in Cleveland County, Okla., said they were dropping the charge and expunging McBride’s record, according to KOKH. Back when the “Sabrina” VHS went unreturned, movie rental stores were still popular fixtures in strip malls across the country. During its peak in 2004, Blockbuster had over 9,000 locations. But thousands closed in recent years thanks to streaming services like Netflix dominating at-home viewing.
Today, just one Blockbuster location remains standing in Bend, Ore.‘Why are you still here?’: Inside the last Blockbuster in America Now a relic of the past, similar stores live on for many as a fond bit of nostalgia. But for McBride, the video store left a stain on her background check. McBride first learned of the felony charge after getting married in November in Texas. When she emailed the Texas Department of Motor vehicles to legally change her last name from Davis, she learned there was a problem. “They sent me an email and they told me … that I had an issue in Oklahoma,” McBride told KOKH.
They told her to call the Cleveland County District Attorney’s office, which informed her there was a warrant for her arrest filed in March 2000 on felony embezzlement charges. “She told me it was over the VHS tape and I had to make her repeat it because I thought, this is insane,” she said. “This girl is kidding me, right? She wasn’t kidding.”
According to court documents, McBride rented “Sabrina the Teenage Witch” on Feb. 14, 1999, from a Movie Place, a now-shuttered video store in Norman, Okla. Prosecutors said she “willfully, unlawfully and feloniously embezzle[d]” the tape, which was worth $58.59, when she did not return the video after 10 days, per the rental agreement.
Confounded, McBride told KOKH she had no recollection of renting the video. But she said she thinks she may know who actually rented the tape. “I had lived with a young man this was over 20 years ago. He had two kids, daughters that were 8, 10 or 11 years old, and I’m thinking he went and got it and didn’t take it back or something,” she said.
News of McBride’s charges quickly made its way to the cast of “Sabrina.” Its star, Melissa Joan Hart, posted a local news article on her Instagram on Saturday with a shrugging emoji, prompting several others from the show to comment. “Seriously let’s all sign a script for her to help her out,” wrote Caroline Rhea, who played Sabrina’s aunt Hilda.
“Listen she’s no dummy when it comes to her viewing preferences,” commented Jenna Leigh Green, who played Libby, Sabrina’s high school nemesis. But McBride told KOKH that she’s never watched the show or even heard of the teenage witch. “Just not my cup of tea,” McBride said. “Meanwhile, I’m a wanted felon for a VHS tape.”