Mini Mart employee steals $13,900

Published 2:11 am Monday, September 17, 2007

By By NORMA LERNER / Niles Daily Star
CASSOPOLIS – A Dowagiac woman who swindled money from her employer of nine years was labeled a "thief" Friday morning in Cass County Circuit Court and was given five years of probation to straighten her life around and to pay back the money.
Tammy Grahl, 43, of Division Street, was convicted Aug. 6 of attempted larceny in a building at the Manor Mini Mart in Dowagiac for stealing more than $10,000 from the mini mart owner Victor Cuthbert who addressed the court. He said she worked nine years for him and his wife, and they put a great deal of faith in her. It was Dec. 6 when they discovered she was stealing from them. They found out through the cash register tapes. "She put a financial strain on our business," Cuthbert said.
Cass County Prosecutor Victor Fitz said the proof is if she works to pay this off.
Defense lawyer James Miller pleaded, however, that Grahl has children and is now back on track. She has a new job at McDonald's in Dowagiac, he said, in asking for probation. Grahl had nothing to say to the court.
Judge Michael Dodge said Grahl took $13,900 from the mini mart that cost the Cuthberts a loss of money and merchandise. Typically, people deny this and take a little bit over a long period of time, he said. "She lost a good job and is now branded a thief," Dodge said. "It's not good in a small town." Dodge acknowledged she gained employment to pay back the restitution and has had a clean record.
Grahl's probation fee is $1,200 plus $920 in costs and restitution.
Other Dowagiac sentencings involved a father and son, Joseph Abiney, 42, of Lawrence Street, who were sent to prison for 19 months to 15 years for second-degree home invasion and a concurrent 210 days jail for larceny of $1,000 to $20,000, on May 21 and May 23, consecutively.
Prosecutor Victor Fitz said Abiney was involved in a crime spree with his son, Ryan Abiney, and three others, Benjamin Phillips, whose case is still open; Jeremy Phillips, who got prison time and jail time; and Leanna Weeks, who recently pleaded.
The five stole pit bull puppies from Charles McCarthy of Dowagiac valued at more than $1,000 and invaded the home of Christina Shultz, also of Dowagiac, and stole personal property, Dodge recounted. "You know the difference between right and wrong," Dodge told Abiney even though he has a learning disability. He also noted a past record.
Defense lawyer Dale Blunier pleaded that with Abiney's learning disability he wasn't sure how he would do in prison. Abiney said he was sorry and asked for mercy.
Dodge said he could serve his jail time in prison. His court costs totaled $980 plus restitutions of $482 on the home invasion and a part of $1,931 on the puppies.
Ryan Abiney, 21, of Lawrence Street, received a year in jail for second-degree home invasion on May 21 and restitution of $482 and a concurrent 180 days jail for receiving and concealing stolen property from $1,000 to $20,000 on May 23.
Fitz said Abiney, like his father, was involved with serious activities including the animals stolen from McCarthy. Fitz said he hoped he was sincere in trying to learn from his lesson. He said he may have disability issues as well, but he knows right from wrong. He said Abiney has a juvenile record and is a school dropout. He said he needs to get a job and work hard as he has many years to do it right. "He doesn't have to be like his father," he said.
Miller said when he offered his plea, he intended to go back to school.
Abiney said he would like to get on probation and get a job.
Dodge said he wasn't as heavily involved as some of the others before he imposed time and costs of $240 plus a part of $1,931 restitution for the puppies.
In other sentencings:
Arlene Becerra, 42, 52673 Olive St., Dowagiac, received 300 days jail and $180 costs for possession of cocaine less than 25 grams on North Front Street on Feb. 17.
Felicia Martin, 35, of 215 Andrews St., Dowagiac, received 270 days jail and $120 costs for possession of cocaine less than 25 grams on Andrews Street, Dowagiac, on June 29.
Jessica Garl, 23, 55900 Goff Lake Road, Marcellus, received a year in jail plus three years probation for each delivery/manufacturing of methamphetamine, operating a methamphetamine laboratory and possession of methamphetamine on May 9 at Donald Parkway, Vandalia. Her costs amounted to $1,133.
Paul Loomis, 34, of 19825 North Metcalf, Edwardsburg, received two years probation and costs of $1,200 for failure to pay child support on Nov. 22 for two children. He owes $11,760.
Michael Dayson, 47, of 448 East Pickard St., Mt. Pleasant, 120 day jail plus three years probation and costs of $1,280 for failure to pay child support on March 1, 2006, for four children. He owes $22,669.