Former Keene restaurant bookkeeper ordered to pay $50,000 in restitution
KEENE - A former bookkeeper to several Keene businesses has been ordered to pay restitution of $50,000 to the Keene business woman she stole from.
Jacqlyn Atwater Yeager was ordered to pay the amount to her former employer Dorrie O'Meara in an order from the Cheshire Superior Court released Thursday.
Atwater Yeager was initially charged with two felony counts of theft by unauthorized taking and one misdemeanor count of tampering with private records. The charges alleged she signed and deposited four bank checks purporting to have been signed by O'Meara and repeatedly took cash over a 19 month period from a restaurant, Pedrazas.
Atwater-Yeager pleaded guilty in March 2015 to the theft charge involving the checks and an unrelated charge of welfare fraud. According to order, “At the time of the plea hearing, restitution was capped in the amount of $144,244.”
“The court specifically found the evidence showed the defendant, in her capacity as the bookkeeper for several businesses including Pedrazas, had stolen considerably more than $50,000 in cash from the restaurant,” the order says.
In a negotiated resolution, prosecutors dropped the other charges and agreed to the $50,000 amount, however following this court decision the amount stolen was contested.
In Jan. and Feb. several hearings were held in the Cheshire Superior Court to resolve the issue of restitution.
“The defense raised a number of issues concerning the determination of the amount of cash taken from the businesses. In the period from January 1, 2013 until July 31, 2014, the defendant acted as the bookkeeper for several businesses owned by Ms. O'Meara. Though she did not have much experience before assuming that role, the defendant was placed in a position of significant trust and responsibility. During that time frame, there was a massive discrepancy in the cash taken in by the restaurant and the cash actually deposited in the bank,” said the order issued by judge John Kissinger.
According to the court order an account audit revealed the amount taken to be $103,205.72 in 2013 and $58,822.17 in 2014, more than $160,000 in total.
While the defendant was paid a modest salary of about $23,000 annually, “the evidence suggests the defendant was living well beyond a lifestyle that would be supported by that salary alone,” the order said, including expensive vacations, a lavish wedding, tattoos and cosmetic surgery.
Kissinger concluded in his order, “the Court finds the defendant's testimony that she did not steal any cash not credible. She may not have fully realized how much she had stolen but she knew she was responsible for the vast amount of losses.”
Richard Guerriero, attorney for Dorrie Masten (previously O'Meara) said Thursday that the order rejects Atwater-Yeager's claims while vindicating his client's statements.
Guerriero also said the new order “re-affirms the court's original restitution order of $50,000 and further states that the actual amount of the theft was much greater than that. Thus, Ms. Atwater-Yeager's claims to the contrary have been expressly rejected by the court.”