The former manager of the SweetSpot Bakehouse & Cafe in Whitewater has been accused of bilking more than $32,000 from the popular downtown business.

An initial appearance is scheduled for Thursday, March 28, in Walworth County Circuit Court for Nicole M. Baker, 34, who was charged March 7 with theft in a business setting of more than $10,000.

According to the criminal complaint, SweetSpot owner Lacey Reichwald contacted police in February after confirming that deposits from the SweetSpot Bakehouse, 1185 W. Main St., dating back more than a year were missing.

She told investigators she began looking into the matter after noticing accounting discrepancies in November 2018.

According to the complaint, Reichwald spoke with Baker, her manager, regarding the missing deposits, but Baker denied knowing anything about the missing money. However, Baker allegedly told Reichwald that employees kept daily deposits in a drawer at night so the money could be accessed to make change for customers the following day. Reichwald told investigators that it was not the procedure Baker was supposed to follow.

After noticing a deposit was not made on Feb. 2, Reichwald reviewed video footage from the shop the next day, which allegedly showed Baker entering the store at 5:30 a.m. carrying a deposit bag and placing it under a counter.

According to the complaint, Reichwald confronted Baker a few days later regarding the video footage and Baker allegedly confessed that she had been taking money for a few months. Baker estimated the total amount to be about $15,000. She then submitted a letter of resignation and offered to pay back the missing funds at a rate of $400 per month, the complaint contends.

Reichwald told investigators she then compared point of sale records with deposits and determined there were 49 missing deposits in 2018 and five in 2019 totaling $32,612.71.

The owner also said she had given Baker a cash advance of $1,300 in December 2017 and told Baker it would be the last time she could receive cash advances.

Reichwald told police that she verified that all the missing deposits were from days when Baker had opened the shop. She also noted that there was a period of 10 days during July that Baker was off work and all the deposits were made during that stretch, according to the complaint.

Reichwald also provided investigators with an email from Baker in which she allegedly expresses remorse and said she initially took the money because she needed it and when she wasn’t caught she continued to take the funds.

The charge against Baker is a Class G felony, and if she is convicted she could face maximum penalties of $25,000 in fines and 10 years in prison.

 
 

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