A Burlington man has been ordered into criminal court in conjunction with a major embezzlement complaint at the Moose Lodge on Williston Road, South Burlington Police said.
Theodore “Ted” Shaw, 45, a former club administrator, is due in Vermont Superior Court at 8:15 a.m. March 14, police said. A court citation was served last week on Shaw’s lawyer, Harley Brown of Richmond, Lt. Shawn Demore said.
A joint local, state and federal investigation showed a possible embezzlement of nearly $200,000 over two years from Moose Lodge No. 1618, court records show.
Brown had told The Other Paper last fall he thought a final audit would show substantially less was taken by Shaw, who was originally from Winooski.
A police news release announcing Shaw going to criminal court did not say how much was missing or how many charges he would face. That will be left up to the office of Chittenden County State’s Attorney Sarah George.
Much of the investigation focused on break open tickets with the proceeds expected to go to charity. Yet various Moose members interviewed also had questions about other club finances, records show.
The lodge netted about $300,000 by selling its property in Winooski about seven years ago and relocating to South Burlington. Renovations to the new rented lodge near Mills Avenue cost about $100,000, but the remaining $200,000 has now dwindled to about $50,000, complaining witnesses said.
Bataille said he got a subpoena for bank records that revealed the two accounts had been merged into one and contained about $53,000 as of the end of September.
South Burlington Police had ordered Shaw into criminal court last fall, but George’s office – as the prosecutor – postponed the arraignment to allow for more investigation, both police and Brown told The Other Paper in November.
Sgt. Chris Bataille said the investigation began Sept. 13 following multiple complaints from club members about possible embezzlement at the non-profit.
The city’s investigation soon mushroomed with U.S. Secret Service Agent May Chow and Vermont Liquor Control Investigator Matt Gonyo being part of the case.
A state judge granted a search at the lodge on Oct. 24.
Gonyo said in a court affidavit that he limited his initial financial review of the club records for two years. Between June 2016 and June 2018, the Moose Club bought 431 boxes of break-open tickets and if all the tickets were sold, the lodge should have made $360,899, Gonyo wrote.
Gonyo said Shaw provided records to show the club collected $163,697 for tickets over those two years. That left a $197,202 deficit, Gonyo said in his 6-page single-spaced typed affidavit.
Shaw, during an Oct. 1 interview, estimated he and his staff sell about 80 percent of the break-open tickets in a box before closing it out, Gonyo said. He said even using that estimate, there was still a $142,235 deficit unaccounted for by Shaw.
Gonyo told the court in his affidavit the South Burlington club had sold the break-open tickets for nine years, but the investigation covered only two years.
“The actual amount of money due the Moose Lodge #1618 is likely much more,” he wrote.
Separate complaining witnesses reported Shaw was paid $500 a week, but $300 was going to the State of Vermont for his child support payments, Bataille said. One witness said it looked peculiar that Shaw appeared to carry lots of cash in his pockets and seemed to go on trips every weekend, Bataille wrote.
“I have never taken any money from the lodge ever,” Shaw is quoted in the affidavit as telling Gonyo. “I didn’t take it, maybe it was employee theft or maybe everything was not being rung in the point of sale as it should be.”
One Moose member indicated that while Shaw was gone one summer week, the Lodge made about $10,000 without being busy, Bataille said. He wrote the lodge member noted with the rent at $4,000 a month, club members had questions how the Moose Lodge could be losing money.
Investigators also seized the video surveillance system for the bar, records show.
This marks the third time in the past year a South Burlington establishment has been at the center of an embezzlement investigation by an owner or employee for pocketing proceeds from the sale of break-open charity tickets, court records show.
Brendan A. McGrath, owner of The Rotisserie restaurant on Williston Road, pleaded not guilty in Vermont Superior Court last fall to three counts of embezzlement and one charge of false of information to police to try to deflect the investigation.
McGrath, 43, of South Burlington failed to turn over at least $120,544 between January 2016 and December 2017 due to HomeShare Vermont on Farrell Street, a Vermont Liquor Control Department affidavit said.
Another court hearing in McGrath’s case is set for April 15.
Last year the former owner of the Sugarhouse Bar & Grill on Queen City Park Road denied two felony counts of embezzlement related to nearly $40,000 in missing money from the sale of break-open tickets for charities, court records show.
Nicholas Bermudez, 32, of Milton, operated the bar for about 18 months, but the Vermont Tax Department closed it in June 2017 for failure to stay current with the rooms and meals taxes, officials said. The bar, the former site of the longtime bar Franny O’s, was located just off Shelburne Road on Queen City Park Road.
Liquor Control maintained Bermudez kept the proceeds from the sale of charity tickets earmarked for the Burlington Amateur Hockey Association and Jones Music Media in Burlington, a court affidavit said.
State’s Attorney Sarah George said this week that the Bermudez case has been transferred by her office from criminal court to the Court Diversion Program. That allows defendants to avoid criminal convictions by apologizing for their conduct and doing community service work.