An Ocala Police officer was called to an office supply store on Thursday after an employee was accused of stealing.
The officer responded to the Staples, located at 1901 E Silver Springs Blvd., and spoke with the general manager and the loss prevention officer. They claimed that 18-year-old Donatella Celi had been stealing cash and issuing herself gift cards from fraudulent returns at her register from April 12 through Tuesday, June 11, a police report states.
The total loss was estimated at $2177.10 and the loss prevention officer provided the officer with computer transaction documents from Celi’s register which allegedly showed the fraudulent returns. The records showed that the transactions would be completed near the end of Celi’s shift using receipts she had been able to obtain from customers throughout the day, the report says.
The officer was told that on smaller transactions, Celi would take a cash back return without actually having anything to return, and for the higher-dollar amount items she would take the funds in the form of gift cards, the report says.
The store also provided a written statement from Celi about the cost to the business and the reasons for her actions, along with a records of her work schedule to show that each instance of fraud and theft occurred while she was working, the report says.
Celi allegedly admitted to the fraudulent returns over the course of the past two months. She stated that she has had a difficult time in her personal life with struggles her family is facing and being the only person at home with a job, the report says.
Celi allegedly claimed that she was trying to help get money for her mother since her father has stopped sending child support for her. She said she also wanted to help family members in New York who were likely going to be evicted. And she said she was aware of her illegal actions and the consequences she could face, the report says.
Celi was taken into custody and transported to the Marion County Jail, where she was charged with larceny/grand theft and fraud. She was released early Friday morning on $4,000 bond and her next court date hasn’t yet been set.