ELLENVILLE – A manager of ACE Hardware in the village has been charged with stealing more than $14,000 from the store in the past six months. During the investigation, police discovered another employee had stolen power tools.
Miguel Martire, 26, was charged with grand larceny and falsifying business records, both felonies. He was released with a ticket to appear in court at a later date. The other employee was also arrested, but a name, amount taken and charges were unavailable at press time.
ACE owner Brian Culwell said he is devastated by the thefts. "Miguel has worked for me for 11 years, since he was 15," Culwell said. "He's had the official designation of manager for two and a half years.
"What he was doing was going up to the register, typing up a bunch of item numbers, ringing them up as cash refunds, and taking the cash."
One of the cashiers noticed him doing a refund when there was nobody in the store, and his reason for doing the refund just didn't make sense, so she brought it to Culwell's attention.
"We saw a pattern and confronted him on it," Culwell said. "During the investigation it came out we had another employee that had stolen power tools in the past. It's a little hard to believe he stole something 3 years ago and hasn't stolen anything since."
Culwell is still trying to understand Miguel's motivation. "It's devastating. I considered him like part of the family, like a brother, and to get kicked in the back of the head like this...
"People have made comments that I didn't pay him well enough, that I deserved this; that just drives me nuts. He made a good wage; I treated him fairly.
"We're struggling. My wife works a second job so we can pay our mortgage. Our store is just hanging on and we can't afford to lose $14,000," Culwell continued. "He stole more money in six months than my wife took home in a year at her second job."
Still, he isn't completely jaded by the incidents. "Not everybody's bad, you've got to have trust. You've got to have faith that not everybody's going to steal from you. Other employees are picking up the slack. I have a couple of people in the industry who have offered to come in and help.
"It sucks, but we're dealing with it."