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Former JCC bookstore employee admits $65K theft

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A former bookstore employee at Jefferson Community College admitted Monday in Jefferson County Court that she stole more than $65,000 from the store while she worked there.

Nancy M. Lear, 41, of 17239 Route 12E, Dexter, pleaded guilty to third-degree grand larceny. She admitted that while working for the college’s Faculty Student Association, a not-for-profit organization that operates the store, she stole $65,727. Officials said at the time of her arrest that she was issuing false refunds to herself.

She is expected to be sentenced June 11 to five years’ probation and be ordered to work several weekends at the Metro-Jefferson Public Safety Building. She also will be ordered to pay full restitution.

Mrs. Lear made admissions to police about the embezzlement at the time of her arrest, but gave no indication of what she did with all the cash. A police report quotes sources who indicated she made frequent trips to Turning Stone Casino, Oneida County, and also traveled to New Orleans and Florida. Her hourly wage was listed as $17.21.

Police were asked to investigate on Dec. 1 after David J. Schissler, Faculty Student Association executive director, conducted an inventory with new computer software that had been installed in April. Older software had failed to indicate why in recent years the store was suffering “write-offs” approaching $100,000. The inventory that day revealed a $79,219.66 loss since April, and it also indicated that most of the transactions occurred between 6 and 7 a.m., while Mrs. Lear was working alone, according to the court file.

Mrs. Lear became ill on the day of the inventory after being confronted about the lost money, a police report said.

Mr. Schissler explained to police that a book already in stock was scanned into the computer as if it were an item being returned. That would enable the clerk to remove the cash value from the money drawer and pocket it.

While processing the bogus refund, she had to enter a nine-digit student identification number. Made-up numbers were entered, but no red flags turned up because the store’s computer is not linked to the college’s computer system, Mrs. Lear told police in her sworn statement.

She estimated that she recorded false refunds two or three times a week, doing two to four books each time. At that pace, she was pocketing $200 to $300 per week, she said in the document. The new software installed in April will prevent thefts of the type for which Mrs. Lear was convicted, school officials have said.

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