Wednesday, August 7, 2002
Delaware court hears theft cases
By Patricia Breakey
Delhi News Bureau
DELHI A man who broke into a church, a woman who stole from a grocery store and a man accused of injuring another man during a robbery appeared in Delaware County Court on Monday.
Joseph W. Bennett, 25, of Walton was sentenced in connection with a burglary at the Walton Presbyterian Church on Jan. 14. He pleaded guilty to third-degree burglary and petit larceny in a plea bargain negotiated by his attorney, Michael Mendelson.
Bennett was one of three men involved in the burglary. Gerard F. H. Johnson, 19, of Andes and Timothy S. Bennett, 24, of Norwich were each charged with a felony count of third-degree burglary, fourth-degree criminal mischief and petit larceny.
Delaware County District Attorney Richard Northrup said the agreed-upon sentence was 21/2 to five years in prison.
Delaware County Judge Robert Estes sentenced Bennett to 21/2 to five years on the burglary charge and one year on the petit larceny charge, to run concurrently. He also ordered Bennett to pay $25 restitution to the church to cover the cost of a broken window and missing postage stamps and cash.
In the other cases heard Monday:
On July 8, Lori L. Northrup, 35, pleaded guilty to stealing property valued at more than $3,000 while she was working as a cashier at the Walton Big M supermarket. The theft of the property occurred between October 2000 and December 2001.
During a restitution hearing Monday, Northrup's attorney, Michael Mendelson, and Special District Attorney Linden Summers questioned witnesses about the amount of restitution she would owe the Traveler's Insurance Co.
Northrup made an initial restitution payment to James Groff, owner of the Big M, of $7,831.25 to pay his up-front, out-of-pocket expenses.
Traveler's Insurance paid Groff $31,623.36 to cover the loss from the thefts, according to Stephen Turowski, Traveler's property insurance adjuster. Turowski said Traveler's wants to recover the money. There was a $2,500 deductible on the Big M insurance policy through Traveler's, he said.
Groff testified that inconsistencies in inventory conducted by an independent group indicated there might be employee theft. A certified public accountant verified the total loss at $34,123.36, Groff said.
"They recommended that we start looking at employees," he said. "We were analyzing weekend sales when we noticed a huge bottle refund it was for $600."
Groff testified that over the 15-month period, there were irregular voids, grocery and bottle refunds when Northrup was working at the courtesy counter. The questionable transactions were found by analyzing records from the computerized cash register records, Groff said.
"Day in day out, every time she was on duty, there were unusual transactions," Groff said.
Groff said there were 15 grocery refunds for $98.97 in December 2001. He added that there were 10 bottle refunds for $150 each in November 2001.
The restitution hearing was not completed by 5 p.m., so Estes scheduled it to continue Aug. 19 at 9 a.m., prior to Northrup's sentencing.
Summers is acting as special district attorney because Delaware County District Attorney Richard Northrup said the defendant is related through marriage to his cousin.
Craig Powers, 18, of Sidney pleaded innocent to charges of second-degree burglary and third-degree assault.
Estes said the indictment indicated Powers forcibly tried to steal property and caused physical injury to Sean M. Lydston, 18.
Estes said the county Probation Department would do a pre-plea investigation. He set Powers' trial to begin Jan. 7.
Powers was returned to jail on $1,500 bail.
Patricia Breakey can be reached at (607) 746-2894 or at email@example.com.