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BARTENDER THEFT: A longtime worker financially crippled the owners through her many thefts.

August 13, 2011 17:49 by administrator


BARTENDER THEFT:

Crescent ‘No Lawyers’ Bar & Grill embezzler Kristi L. Hurles gets 14 years

A longtime worker financially crippled the owners of the Crescent through her many thefts.

  • BY KATY MOELLER 

A longtime Boise business owner wept in Fourth District Court Thursday morning as she told a judge about the damage inflicted by a former employee who prosecutors say embezzled more than $155,440.

“She did about the worst thing that someone could do to another human being,” Crescent “No Lawyers” Bar & Grill owner Jody Morrison told Judge Darla Williamson. “She took our trust and feelings for her, and she took the ultimate advantage.”

“She stole more than money,” Morrison said. “She stole our hearts as well.”

Kristi L. Hurles, 45, pleaded guilty to one count of grand theft. She was sentenced to 14 years in prison and must serve at least two years before she’s eligible for parole. She received credit for 85 days served.

Williamson said Hurles also must pay full restitution of $204,174.61, including attorney’s fees of $48,734.61.

Hurles had worked at Jody and Butch Morrison’s bar and grill for more than 20 years off and on, doing bartending, serving and some bookkeeping.

Her last year as an employee was in 2009, and she was charged with two felony grand theft counts last fall. As part of a plea deal, one count was dropped.

Prosecutors say Hurles —known to bar patrons as “Cookie” — stole money by taking business checks intended for business accounts and cashing them.

Ada County Deputy Prosecutor Shawna Dunn said the Morrisons gave Hurles bonuses and a retirement account, while the highly trusted employee stole from them over and over again.

Dunn said in court that Hurles had filed bankruptcy three times and had refused to bring her lifestyle in line with her income. The Statesman was able to confirm only one filing, in 2010.

Hurles, dressed in a purple jail jumpsuit, expressed remorse in court.

“I totally apologize for everything I did to the Morrisons. They were a good family,” Hurles said. “It was a hard time. And, no, I did not take money for the whole 25 years, like you guys are saying I did.”

“I took about 14 months,” she said. The crimes that she was prosecuted for occurred between 2005 and 2010.

Hurles tried to speak directly to the Morrisons in court, but they looked away.

“Please look at me, I’m telling the truth,” she implored the couple.

Hurles’ attorney Charles Crafts pleaded for leniency, arguing that his client had no prior criminal record, has strong family and community support and wants to re-pay the money she stole.

In handing down the sentence, Williamson said Hurles had essentially established a criminal record when she stole repeatedly from her employers.

The judge said the substantial amount of money that Hurles stole affected not only the Morrisons — who drained a retirement account, tapped their savings and ran up credit card debt to keep their business open — but the 30 employees whose jobs were jeopardized, or who didn’t get raises or other compensation.

“Your honor, I didn’t steal a large amount of money,” Hurles said, interrupting the judge.

Williamson told Hurles that she made hard economic times even harder for those around her.

“I think that punishment is important in this case,” Williamson said. “It’s got to send a message to other employees.”

Hurles has 42 days to appeal.

Michael Zenner - CEO      
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