A former convenience store clerk has pleaded guilty to stealing thousands of dollars' worth of scratch off Hoosier Lottery tickets from two stores she managed.
Karen Valentine was sentenced Tuesday to two years in a work release program and ordered by a Vanderburgh County Circuit Court judge to pay $2,500 in restitution.
Valentine said she took only $2,000 to $3,000 worth of tickets from the two Busler stores in Evansville where she had worked. However, an outside audit found the combined ticket shortages for the two stores she managed totaled $27,013.20.
Valentine said she helped herself to one or two $1 lottery tickets each time a customer bought a series of tickets.
She told the court she only took one or two tickets a day.
"I don't buy your story about one or two a day. That's unbelievable," Magistrate David Kiely told Valentine in court.
Defense attorney Chris Lenn suggested others had the opportunity to steal the tickets. Valentine was the only on site employee at both stores.
When an inventory audit uncovered a large ticket shortage, Valentine denied involvement, and Busler did not have enough proof to terminate her, Nancy Markham, vice president of operations at Busler, testified Tuesday.
But Markham said Valentine later was caught on a store surveillance security tape stealing lottery tickets, scratching them off, and redeeming them for cash.
Valentine was terminated in January.