Cash register tapes told tale
Breach of trust nets employees stiff sentences

by Chris Meyers Almey
Northern News Services

NNSL (May 16/97) - A profitable scam for two clerks came to an end when a bookkeeper found cash-register tape on the floor which led directly to the money trail.

The three owners of the Country Corner had been "going crazy" because they couldn't understand where tens of thousands of dollars the business should have been making were going.

All the while, two of their employees were taking holidays and buying groceries with the money they stole.

The details came out Wednesday in territorial court as Violet Ann Chile, her sister Debbie Chile, and Violet's husband, William Lesley MacLeod, faced the fallout from the crime.

The first year of operation the store paid 15 employees $360,000 in wages but last year the store had just six employees who made $100,000, a direct result of the thefts, owner Les Rocher wrote in his victim impact statement.

Violet Chile, 32, received 18 months in jail while Debbie, 27, got five months, both for theft over $5,000. MacLeod, 47, received five months for possession of stolen property valued over $5,000.

Violet is believed to have stolen more than $67,000 and after repaying some, there's about $48,000 still to go. It is thought Debbie took about $9,400 and has repaid about half.

The sisters were also placed on probation for three years, during which time they are to repay the money.

Crown prosecutor Jolaine Antonio said the scheme was uncovered when a bookkeeper started checking receipts and found many missing. The cash register's dollar tally also didn't match with the receipts.

A cash register tape found on the floor triggered the bookkeeper's curiosity because no money was turned in with it.

The two employees were ringing off the cash register part-way through their shifts, pocketing the money with the internal tape, then starting afresh and turning in the cash from the rest of the day's receipts.

The crime lasted from March 1995 until May 1996. It took five people seven days to examine the records. Charges were not laid until late last year.

The trio signed documents in June agreeing to repay the money and kept their jobs, but Judge Michel Bourassa wasn't aware of the deal.

Defence lawyer Tom Boyd said the thefts started when Violet's husband lost his job because of a back injury. The thefts stopped after he started receiving compensation cheques.

He added that both women left after being forced to perform non-clerical tasks, such as steam-cleaning, and neither bothered to collect their last $1,000 paycheques.

Bourassa said Rocher's victim-impact statement "puts a human face on this kind of callous stealing from an employer ... while they were having holidays."