Local business owner awarded $87,000 in damages
Rockland — A Rockland business owner was awarded compensatory and punitive damages in the amount of $87,520 May 9 after she took civil action against a former bookkeeper, who is charged with stealing the businesses assets during a 10-month period.
Lynn Archer, of Warren, owns Archer's Restaurant and The Brass Compass Restaurant in Rockland. Melanie L. Allen, of Union, was employed as the bookkeeper for Archer for more than 10 years, but was charged with forging checks and stealing cash in the amount of 87,000 from January to October 2013.
Archer was awarded $40,000 in punitive damages because she proved Allen acted with malice, according to Justice Jeffrey Hjelm's order.
Allen did not appear at the hearing May 7. In criminal charges for the same conduct, Allen is scheduled for a plea hearing June 23.
The suit stated Archer placed confidence and trust in Allen to handle the monies and books of the businesses.
The checks Allen is accused of writing total $49,592, and the stolen cash amount is estimated at $30,000, said the suit.
Allen was also charged with failing to pay the state sales taxes for the businesses. The plaintiff alleges Allen took the money set aside for payments.
Allen was charged with Class B theft and forgery in October following an investigation by Rockland Police Detective Russ Thompson.
Archer noticed something was amiss in recent bank statements that showed a number of checks were written out to Allen, with Archer's forged signature, said court papers.
Allen admitted to Thompson she had been embezzling money from the businesses since July. She told police she cashed the fraudulent checks at Wal-Mart, and admitted to forging Archer's signature. Thompson said the amount of money stolen is expected to rise once bank records are analyzed, according to a police affidavit.
Archer is represented by Rockport attorney Robert J. Rubin.
Courier Publications' reporter Juliette Laaka can be reached at 594-4401 ext. 118 or via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.