Store Embezzler Goes To Prison

A former convenience manager sentenced for embezzling a quarter of a million dollars.

Fifty-six-year-old Michael P. Flaherty was sentenced to not less than four years and not more than six years. The Cassgram reports that last month he had pled guilty to theft by deception, over $1500, a Class III Felony.

The investigation by the Plattsmouth Police Department that eventually involved the United States Secret Service began when the owners of Lucky`s convenience store and car wash in Plattsmouth were alerted by their accountant in late 2011 about irregular store deposits. The investigation turned up evidence that Flaherty regularly manipulated the daily sales reports. $264,000 was stolen over several months, said the report.

Cass County Attorney Nathan Cox said the owners of the store confronted Flaherty and Flaherty admitted to taking money, although he still disputes the total amount. The arrest warrant affidavit said Flaherty also admitted to authorities that he had been falsifying reports.

The owners of Lucky’s filed a civil suit against Flaherty for $264,000 and prevailed in that case earlier this year.

A Class III Felony conviction carries a 1 year to 20 year sentence, a fine of up to $25,000, or both. There had been no agreement on the criminal case sentencing and the prosecution and defense were far apart on their recommendations to Cass County District Judge Randall Rehmeier at the hearing yesterday. The prosecution asked for a minimum of an eight year sentence. The defense asked for probation.

Cox said Flaherty violated the store owner’s “implicit trust …to the tune of over a quarter million dollars.” Cox said the theft was a “very calculating process” and that there has been “no accounting” of where the money went. No repayments have been made despite the civil case ruling and that shows “disregard for the victim.” Cox said the Lucky’s owner requested that Flaherty serve four years in prison, one year for each year Flaherty was stealing from the store. (Under Nebraska sentencing laws, an eight year prison term would have resulted in four years of incarceration with good behavior.)

Mike Ziskey of the alternate public defender’s office said Flaherty cooperated during the investigation but believes the actual amount missing is about $150,000. He noted that Flaherty represented himself during the civil trial because he could not afford an attorney. “There is no pot of money” or property that Flaherty can draw on to make restitution, said Ziskey. Flaherty had no prior criminal record. Flaherty had always conducted himself in “a law abiding manner” but then “got in pretty deep,” said Ziskey.

When asked if he wanted to say anything, Flaherty apologized for the crime and said, “I will not do it again.”

Rehmeier said the impact on a victim “is appropriate for the court to look at” and whether it is $150,000 or $260,000 it is still “a significant amount of money” and this is “a significant offense.”

Flaherty had spent eight days in jail after his arrest and was given credit for those days served. Since then he had been free on $100,000 bond (10% applicable).

With Nebraska’s good time laws, Flaherty will be eligible for parole in two years. He was remanded to the custody of the sheriff’s department immediately after the hearing.

(Lucky’s has since been sold and is now a Hy-Vee convenience store.)

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