RUTLAND — Fair Haven police say Denise Ballard was skimming more than just a little off the top.
The 45-year-old appeared in Rutland criminal court Monday, where she pleaded not guilty to a felony charge of embezzling from the liquor store she worked at for nine years in Fair Haven.
During an 18-month span from May 2010 to November 2012, Ballard allegedly stole $151,387 from Liberty Street Discount Beverage, police said.
The Fair Haven woman allegedly voided valid sales and then withdrew money from the register. In an interview with police, Ballard allegedly said she would void sales and take money from the register one or two days a week in amounts varying from $100 to $500 at a time.
Ballard also told police she was having financial problems at the time related to household matters and a gambling addiction. She told police that sometimes she would use the extra money in her register to purchase lottery tickets.
Police Sgt. Shaun Hewitt said in an affidavit that when she was confronted about the thefts, Ballard said “she wished she had never done this and that she had a lot of guilt ever since she had started.” Hewitt said Ballard’s activities were discovered by owner Steven Wolk after new security cameras were installed.
Reached at the store Monday, Wolk said he was struggling with not only the financial loss but the betrayal of a longtime employee.
“We’re waiting for the court and restitution to pay back the money,” he said. “It was quite a blow to us financially (and) personally. One hundred and fifty thousand dollars is a lot of money, but it’s more than that.”
Despite the financial strain, Wolk said his business had survived.
No bail was set for Ballard, who also pleaded innocent to a misdemeanor count of petty larceny. She was released from court on conditions that included that she stay away from Liberty Street Discount Beverage.
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