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By LeAnn R. Ralph
MENOMONIE — A 22-year-old Menomonie woman who was a waitress at Jake’s Supper Club has been accused of credit card fraud to increase the amount of her tips.
Kaylee L. Sutliff made an initial appearance in Dunn County Circuit Court before Judge Rod Smeltzer January 29 on four misdemeanor counts of theft by false representation of less than $2,500 and one misdemeanor count of bail jumping.
According to the criminal complaint, a deputy with the Dunn County Sheriff’s Department was dispatched to Jake’s Supper Club on County Highway D in the Town of Tainter on December 21 where he was informed a waitress was suspected of committing credit card fraud.
Peter Gruetzmacher, the owner of Jake’s Supper Club, said he had received a call from a man on December 10 who said he had been overcharged on his credit card. Gruetzmacher was able to locate the credit card slip and forwarded a copy of it to the man, who informed Gruetzmacher the writing on the slip was not his, and the credit card slip had been forged.
Gruetzmacher told the deputy he had contacted the waitress, Kaylee Sutliff, and forwarded a copy of the credit card slip to her by text message. Sutliff said she had wrote in the amount of the tip on the slip but denied adjusting the total on the credit card charge, according to the complaint.
Sutliff told Gruetzmacher she would never alter the credit card charge because “that is unethical,” the complaint states.
Gruetzmacher said Sutliff had worked at Jake’s for a few months, and he had no reason not to believe her. Customers forgetting to fill out credit card slips or filling them out incorrectly is common, and Gruetzmacher said he gave Sutliff the benefit of the doubt and assumed the man had done the math incorrectly and that Sutliff had written in the tip but had not changed the total amount, according to the complaint.
Gruetzmacher told the deputy he had learned on December 20 that Sutliff had recently been arrested for retail theft, so he contacted his bookkeeper and asked her to start looking through Sutliff’s credit slips for possible changes to the tip and total amounts.
The bookkeeper had located several credit slips that been tampered with, Gruetzmacher said.
The bookkeeper had noted on the credit card slips in the stack below the suspected changed slips, an imprint of the pen could be seen where the slip above had been changed.
Gruetzmacher said it was impossible for the customer to have done this because the customer would not have had the other customers’ credit card slips. The only way the slips in the stack below the altered credit card slip would have the imprint from the pen, Gruetzmacher said, would be if the server changed the totals after the credit card slips had been collected from the customers, according to the complaint.
Sutliff was preparing for her shift at Jake’s Supper Club, and Gruetzmacher told her the deputy needed to speak with Sutliff.
When the deputy showed Sutliff the pictures of each credit card receipt, Sutliff denied changing the slips. The deputy asked if she would be willing to fill out a voluntary statement, and Sutliff said she would. When the deputy handed the statement form to Sutliff, he told her the voluntary statement was her truthful statement and that she could not lie on the form.
The deputy asked Sutliff if she wanted to review the receipts again to see if there were any she had changed, and Sutliff said it “was possible she had changed a few of them.”
All together, Sutliff admitted to changing four of the credit card slips and said she needed the money because she is in school and Christmas was coming up, according to the complaint.
One of the altered credit card slips was from a November 14 Rotary Club dinner at Jake’s Supper Club. The total was $278.17 with a mandatory 15 percent gratuity, for a total of $328.24. The customer with the credit card had written in the total of $328.24 but had left the tip line blank. The customer said an additional $10 had been added to the tip, and the total was changed to $338.24, according to the complaint.
In another instance, a man and his wife had gone to Jake’s Supper Club for dinner on November 9. The total was $63.01, and the man had added a tip of $11.99 and wrote in the total of $75. When the deputy showed him the receipt, the man said the tip had been changed to $21.99 and the total changed to $85, according to the complaint.
In the third instance, a woman said she had gone to Jake’s Supper Club on November 19 with her son and daughter-in-law for dinner. The total was $94.17, and the woman wrote in the total as $104.17 but left the tip line blank. The woman said $15 had been added to the tip line, and the total was changed to $109.17, according to the complaint.
In the fourth instance, a man said he had eaten at Jake’s Supper Club on November 30. The total bill was $61.65, and the man wrote in $70 and filled in the tip line with $8.35. The man checked his credit card statement and noticed he had been charged $80 for the meal. He had contacted Jake’s and had been provided with a copy of his receipt. The tip line had been changed on the receipt to $18.35, according to the complaint.
Gruetzmacher also provided the deputy with other credit card slips that had possibly been changed. On one of the slips, a man had dined on October 20, and the tip appeared to have been changed from $7 to $17.
On another slip from November 3, the tip looked as if it had been changed from $20 to $30, but when contacted, the woman could not confirm what she had written in for a tip.
On yet another slip from December 7, a tip looked as if it had been changed from $20 to $30, and on a slip from December 8, the tip appeared to have been changed from $22.50 to $32.50. Gruetzmacher was unable to provide additional information about the people in question, according to the complaint.
Upon a search of the Wisconsin Circuit Court Access, the deputy discovered Sutliff had an open case of misdemeanor retail theft in Dunn County, and a signature bond had been signed in that case on November 27.
Based upon the statements the deputy was able to collect from four of the alleged victims and Sutliff’s admission to changing some of the credit card slips, the deputy placed Sutliff under arrest for theft by fraud and misdemeanor bail jumping.
Judge Smeltzer set a cash bail of $200 in the credit card fraud case on January 3, and Sutliff posted the cash bail of $200 on January 7.
Sutliff is scheduled for another court appearance March 26.