Former assistant manager at Mohegan Sun restaurant charged with embezzlement

A former assistant general manager at Ballo Italian Restaurant in Mohegan Sun appeared in New London Superior Court Monday on charges that he embezzled $103,568 from the restaurant over a three-year period.

Adam G. Johnson, 43, of Griswold was fired Sept. 29, 2018, after the general manager confronted him about a suspicious transaction and he said, "You got me," according to an arrest warrant affidavit written by Mohegan Tribal Police officer Thomas Nickerson.

The owner of the high-end restaurant, not named in the court document but identified elsewhere as John J. Tunney III, complained to Mohegan Tribal Police on Oct. 23, 2018. He said Johnson had been entering the restaurant's computer "point of sale" system and finding closed transactions of customers who had paid in cash. Johnson was using his authority as a manager to void items off the bills or enter promotional codes to lower the total, then taking the extra cash, according to the affidavit.

Johnson was charged with first-degree larceny Jan. 18 and posted a $50,000 bond.

He made his first appearance Monday in the court where major crimes are tried. Attorney Kevin C. Barrs, serving as a public defender, entered a not guilty plea on Johnson's behalf. The case was continued to March 14.

According to the arrest warrant affidavit, in September 2018, the restaurant's general manager was running a contest among staff to see who could sell the most specialty drinks and appetizers. He posted a report of transactions from Saturday, Sept. 29, so employees could see where they stood in the contest, and a server contacted him to tell him the number of specialty items she sold was not accurate in the report. The general manager said he confronted Johnson after noticing he reopened the check two hours after it was opened on the computer system and voided $192.44 in specialty items. 

Johnson admitted to stealing from the restaurant and was fired on the spot, according to the affidavit.

The restaurant owner, controller and bookkeeper reviewed the records, determining that Johnson, who had been given manager access to the point of sale system in 2013, had started modifying the closed checks in July 2015 on nights when he worked as closing manager. The number of checks he altered increased each year, beginning with 49 during a six-month period in 2015 and increasing to 722 between January and September 2018.

During an interview with tribal police in November, Johnson explained how he would void items off guest checks, usually on Saturday nights, and take from $150 to $800. He said he would sometimes take some of the money and put it in bartenders' tip jars, but that mostly he used the money for family expenses. The general manager reported to police that some employees told him Johnson used to gamble before and after work.

k.florin@theday.com

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