(March 20, 2015) A Snow Hill woman was found guilty of stealing more than $65,000 worth of jewelry and other items from her Ocean City employer, the Indian River Trading Co., following a trial last Friday in District Court in Snow Hill.
Christine Davis, 46, was a trusted employee, Indian River owner Jack Alexander testified.
“My wife and I have been in business for 41 years and we never had an experience of theft like this before, which was both mentally distressing and monetarily impactful,” said Alexander, an Ocean Pines resident.
Alexander told the court that Davis had keys to the business, which she often used to open and close the shop while he and his wife were away.
“I’m just very disappointed,” he said. “It made me rethink about how we trust other employees going forward. It’s just been a really bad experience for us.”
Prosecutor Steven Rakow said Davis stole “over $65,000 worth of jewelry, rings, watches, pendants, chains and other gold and silver.”
Rakow said although some of the stolen goods were recovered, $48,187 in property was still missing.
Julie Guyer, lawyer for the defense, said Davis “found herself in a position where she couldn’t make ends meet.”
“Well, $65,000 will make ends meet very well,” Judge Thomas Groton said. “She [did] more than make ends meet.”
According to Guyer, Davis had “significant medical issues” that hampered her ability to work, including a recent emergency surgery for ovarian cancer.
“With regards to that surgery, unfortunately she developed an infection,” Guyer said. “She went back in for surgery on Feb. 24 and again she has a medical procedure that is scheduled for April 8 as a follow-up.”
Guyer said her client now works three jobs and presented a check for $850 in restitution money to the state’s attorney.
The defense asked the court to consider reducing the sentence and “allowing Christine to get back to work so that she can pay this restitution off,” also asking the court give Davis “some time to heal” following the April procedure in case of incarceration.
Davis said she had two DWI’s during a two-month span, and that the incidents “really put my life into perspective.”
“I’m a grandmother with two beautiful grandchildren,” she said. “There is no excuse for my actions.”
“Theft is bad enough in and of itself, but this is a step up from that because it’s theft from an employer,” Groton said. “Mr. Alexander and his company had enough faith in you to place trust in you, and you repaid him for that trust by stealing. It’s a more egregious event than theft itself.
“Your attorney indicated that you needed this money to make ends meet,” Groton continued. “Well what ends did you need to meet with $65,000?”
“All I can say, your honor, is that I cannot believe it was that much,” Davis said.
Groton sentenced Davis to four years in Worcester County Jail with five years supervised probation. All but one year of jail time was suspended.
The judge also ordered $47,327 in restitution to be paid within three and a half years of release, as well as drug and alcohol counseling.
Groton ordered the sentence to begin immediately, but said he would consider a release in case of future surgery.
“One you have completed your time and you are on supervised probation the most important condition … is you make that restitution,” Groton said. “If you don’t, what you’re looking at is going back to jail.”
Following the trial, Alexander said a former employee tipped him off that Davis had stolen the jewelry.
Alexander said he was conflicted about the court’s decision.
“I’d like to see her spend time in jail, but on the other hand if I’m going to be getting any money back, she needs to get out and go to work,” he said. “That’s the only way any restitution is going to be made.”