Breaking News in the Industry: January 13, 2017

Hospital meal

Employee who managed ‘change’ at hospital dining areas charged with $1.1 million theft

The FBI investigated a woman formerly in charge of making “change” at University of Alabama (UAB) Hospital dining areas has been charged in the theft of $1.1 million.

Kyejuana Avery, 34, entered into a plea agreement Thursday with the U.S. Attorney’s Office to a charge of theft concerning programs receiving federal funds, according to court documents. Between 2007 and 2013 Avery was employed as a financial account representative at the University of Alabama at Birmingham’s Hospital Food and Nutrition Services Department, according to the plea deal. That department sells food and beverages at locations around University Hospital.

On Dec. 11, 2013 the department initiated a count of the cash on hand in the cash room. “Avery tried to impede the audit by tampering with the calculators and creating other distractions,” according to the plea agreement. The audit results showed that the department’s safe in the cash room was missing more than $14,000.  Avery ultimately admitted to being responsible for the cash shortage and was fired, according to the plea agreement.

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After Avery’s termination, the hospital conducted an audit of the department for the years 2006 through 2013.
The audit reflects that the balance in the change fund began to grow in 2008 and by December 2013 had reached a total of $1,134,052 – meaning that  the total amount of change withdrawals that were not repaid with deposits during that seven-year period, according to the plea agreement.

Avery admitted to the FBI that she began taking cash from the cash room in 2008 – usually taking no more than $800 or $900 at a time. Avery also had deposited more than $200,000 in cash into her credit union account. No other individuals were involved in the theft, according to the plea agreement… [Source: AL.com]

Employee allegedly rang up $18K in gift cards without payment

A former Walmart employee is wanted on theft by deception charges.  Police say Aleecia Smith rang up gift cards totaling $18,000 with no payment. When her friends came through a Gwinnett County Walmart checkout line, the cashier allegedly rang up a gift card for $1,000. Then she did it 18 more times, according to a police report. A store manager of the Walmart Buford said another manager thought someone used a stolen credit card to buy gift cards… [Source: Atlanta Journal-Constitution]

Handcuffed shoplifting suspect shoots himself in police car

A handcuffed shoplifting suspect who shot himself in the back seat of a patrol car in Texas on Sunday died Monday morning, authorities said. Austin Police Department identified the man as 19-year-old Zachary Khabir Anam.

Police Chief Brian Manley told reporters that officers were responding to a shoplifting report at a mall in a wealthy neighborhood east of downtown Austin at noon on Sunday. Police found Anam, who was wanted on several felony warrants, Manley said. He didn’t have an ID, so an unidentified officer was tasked with driving him to police headquarters to confirm his identity.

When they were roughly five miles from the mall, Anam began discussing suicide with the officer, Manley said.
“The officer inquired if he had the means,” Manley said. “The individual stated that he did.” Manley said that Anam pulled a pistol from the small of his back and, while handcuffed, managed to pull the weapon around to the right side of his body and place the barrel at his head. The officer jumped out of the car and started giving commands, Manley said, but it was unclear if the officer, an 11-year veteran, had searched him before placing him under arrest. “If this individual had chosen to remove that weapon and fire at the officer instead without saying something, we could be here discussing a very different incident here,” Manley said [Source: NBC News]

Police say pursuit of shoplifting suspects halted before their deadly crash

A 32-year-old Ohio woman has been charged in connection with an alleged shoplifting incident that lead to a police chase and a deadly crash in Youngstown. Boardman, police have charged Nicole Mitchell with complicity to commit theft and failing to comply with a police order or command. It’s believed that Mitchell was driving the car that crashed into a utility pole. A passenger in that car, Taylor Duvall,23, died at the scene of the crash after the car flipped over.

Police say they began chasing two women in a car linked to a suspected shoplifting incident at Walgreens 1:20am Tuesday morning. Police say officers stopped the pursuit before the fatal crash because of bad road conditions and because the car had been speeding and driving erratically along South Avenue. Police not far from the crash apprehended Mitchell, who fled on foot following the crash.

Police say surveillance tape shows the woman who is now deceased inside the store just minutes before the fatal crash happened, “Diapers was one of the items (she took), there was also miscellaneous make-up that was stolen and other items.  The passenger had actually been the person who committed the theft and she had filled a hand basket as well as grabbing a pack of diapers.” Now her friend Mitchell not only faces charges in Boardman when she’s released she will also likely face charges in Youngstown that could include vehicular homicide or involuntary manslaughter once their investigation into the fatal accident is complete. [Source: WFMJ.com]

Amazon promises to put 100,000 Americans to work by mid-2018

Chain Store Age is reporting that online behemoth, Amazon has said  it would create 100,000 full-time, full-benefit jobs in the U.S. by mid-2018. The new jobs would bring Amazon’s total workforce to more than 280,000. (By comparison, Walmart currently employs 1.5 million people across the United States).  The new Amazon positions will varied from engineers and software developers to those seeking entry-level positions and on-the-job training. Many of the jobs will be in new fulfillment centers that are currently under construction, including ones in California, Florida, New Jersey and Texas.  Additional positions would be in the areas of cloud technology, logistics and machine learning,

In addition, Amazon businesses like Marketplace and Amazon Flex, will continue to create hundreds of thousands of jobs for people across the U.S. who want the flexibility to start their own business, work part-time or set their own schedule. As part of its new hiring spree, Amazon committed to hiring 10,000 active duty service members, veterans and military spouses not employed by Amazon. The company Amazon already employs over 10,000 military veterans, and last year pledged to hire and train an additional 25,000 veterans and military spouses over the next five years.  [Source: Chain Store Age]

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