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SHERIDAN — A Sheridan woman previously convicted of felony larceny after she faked a robbery and emptied out the safe at the Eagles Club is facing seven new charges for inflating tips from customers as a waitress.
Miranda Mraz, 25, is accused of six counts of felony forgery and one count of misdemeanor theft for allegedly altering customer receipts at the Firewater Bar and Grill on North Main Street.
In February of 2013, a jury convicted Mraz of felony larceny in Sheridan County’s 4th Judicial District Court after a week-long trail. Mraz had called 9-1-1 the morning of April 21, 2012, and claimed she was assaulted shortly after arriving at work as a bartender at the Eagles Club. The money in the safe was missing.
During that trial, prosecutors showed Mraz had actually entered the building and disarmed the alarm twice that morning and inflicted injuries on herself before calling police.
She was ultimately given a suspended sentence and an eight-year probationary term. She also had to pay more than $6,000 in restitution in addition to court fines.
Mraz was arrested again on Tuesday on suspicions that she had altered customer receipts to claim larger tips on multiple occasions between December of last year and Jan. 28 of this year.
According to a narrative written by Sheridan Deputy County Attorney and Prosecutor Christopher LaRosa, who was also the prosecutor in Mraz’s 2013 case, investigators found more than a dozen suspicious instances when Mraz claimed tips ranging between 35 and 69 percent of the total ticket price.
When management at the Firewater Bar and Grill became suspicious after receiving multiple customer complaints about unusually high tip amounts, they notified police and ultimately fired Mraz.
Investigators examined merchant copies of receipts served to customers by Mraz and found several had been altered by adding a “1” in front of a tip amount, thus changing a $6 tip to a $16 tip, or blatantly altering existing numbers to indicate higher amounts. Charging documents indicate the alterations on the stubs were sometimes believable, and sometimes, they were more obviously tampered. All altered receipts showed Mraz was the server.
Investigators also contacted customers of the suspect receipts, who agreed the tip amounts were inflated. One customer purchased $23 worth of food and intended to tip $4, but Mraz claimed a $14 tip from the transaction. Another time, a customer purchased a $49 meal, and intended to tip $10, but instead, was charged a $20 tip.
The Firewater Bar and Grill automatically adds 18 percent gratuity on tickets for tables of six or more people. Mraz had a manager’s authorization code to include mandatory gratuity, and it appears it was also added to tickets of smaller tables in some cases. Tips are the principal wage for servers there. The state’s minimum wage for tipped employees is $2.13 per hour.
All suspect tips totaled $173 and were believed to be taken by Mraz without authorization.
Court documents indicate that when questioned by investigators, Mraz emotionally denied any wrongdoing and claimed everyone was out to get her.
Bond was set by Sheridan County Circuit Court judge Shelley Cundiff at $10,000 cash.
Each felony larceny charge carries with it a possible 10 years in prison and $10,000 fine. The misdemeanor theft charge adds the possibility of another six months of incarceration and a $700 fine. The total possible sentence is 60.5 years in prison and $6,700 in fines.