Theft case

Two employees of an Emerson convenience store, along with one of the employee's sisters, are in legal trouble for skimming from the cash register.

A scheme to skim more than $5,000 from the till at Dixie Mart No. 24 in Emerson led to a guilty plea last week in Columbia County Circuit Court.

Melissa Green, charged with theft of property and one of three people arrested in the case, plead guilty, but was the least culpable of the trio, Deputy Prosecuting Attorney Ryan Phillips during sentencing.

Green was given the sentence of suspended imposition of sentence for five years and ordered to pay restitution on the case along with others involved. She was also ordered to pay court costs and fees associated with the charge and must testify in the case.

Melissa Green was charged along with two Dixie Mart employees, her sister, Michelle Green, and Latifah Randle, another store employee. Both Michelle Green and Latifah Randle appeared in court Thursday but their cases were put off to April 2.

According to court documents, from July 5, 2019 to August 6, 2019, $5,387.45 was taken from the drawers. Mike Cox of Dixie Mart talked to Investigator Kelly Blair about the case and said he had noticed how the thefts were taking place. Cox told Blair that the Dixie Mart had a loss of $24,000 in cash since May 2019 with the inventory and receipts not matching up with the store.

“They would ring up lottery sales, gas sales, and credit card sales, but other sales they would not ring it up and put money to the side,” according to the probable cause affidavit that Blair filed.

Sales paid for in cash were taken by Michelle Green and Randle and placed in the left-hand side of the drawer -- a place reserved for checks if the register was being handled properly. This is the area where cash would build up where they could get it out and distribute in the evening.

Michelle Green told Blair that after management changes, she and Randle were angry about working conditions.

“They wanted us to be slaves,” Michelle Green said, according to the affidavit.

Michelle Green said she and Randle made a plan to take money every day. Michelle Green said that she and Randle would not ring up items and just kept that money in the drawer until Melissa Green could come and pick it up.

“Michelle stated that she told Melissa that she had won money off the lottery and that’s what she was picking up,” the affidavit said. “Michelle stated that Melissa didn’t get suspicious until later on.”

Michelle Green described to Blair the system they used to get the money out of the building. The split between Michelle Green and Randle was 50-50. Michelle Green said her sister Melissa Green would only get gas money or Michelle would buy her food for doing the errand.

Melissa Green said the first time she picked up money at the store, she was told by Randle that Michelle Green had won the lottery. Melissa Green said she picked up money around five different times. Melissa Green stated she received no money from this -- no gas money, no food, nothing. Melissa Green said that once she began to suspect that Michelle Green and Randle were stealing, she stopped taking money.

Although $5,387.45 is the amount that can be linked back to employees of the store, a total loss of $24,000 in cash had been unaccountable for. According to the affidavit, in May 2019 there was a $6,063 shortage with a $9,880 shortage in June 2019 and a $8,064 shortage in July 2019. Cox reported that the store owner, Danny Nixon, found the store’s inventory was off in these months.

“The losses are so large because the inventory was leaving the store without being paid for,” the affidavit said. “The manager at the time was new to the job and would not be familiar with what normal sales for that store would be. It would have been difficult for them to know off hand how much was being ordered as to the amount of actual sales.”

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