SIKESTON, Mo. (KFVS) - A former bar manager is accused of stealing more than $100,000 from the Sikeston American Legion.
Gary Eugene Prindle, 87, of Sikeston, was charged with felony stealing - $25,000 or more.
At an arraignment on Thursday, January 23, he entered a not guilty plea. His preliminary hearing was scheduled for Thursday, February 27.
According to court documents, representatives with the American Legion Post 114 reported a theft on February 11, 2019 after reviewing the sales records in October 2018, specifically for its four Missouri Pull Tab lottery machines.
The employee noticed a large difference in the sales totals and the funds deposited into the businesses’ bank. The employee confirmed a shortage with the Missouri Lottery Commission.
While looking at a report for 2017 and 2018, according to court documents, it was discovered there was a loss from the Lottery Pull bank deposits of $69,079.22 in 2017 and $43,218.83 in 2018, which totaled $112.298.05.
According to court documents, the stolen money was removed from the Missouri Lottery electronic pull tab machines located in the member-only area of the bar and never deposited into the bank account.
Court documents state the Missouri Lottery Commission withdraws the amount of money it is owed from the sales electronically from the bank account. The amount that remains after the withdrawal is the American Legions’ profit.
Investigators say Gary Prindle was the bar manager for the American Legion for almost eight years, specifically in all of 2017 and until about October 2018.
According to court documents, it was common knowledge that Prindle arrived to work early every morning and would play the Pull Tabs Machines prior to bar opening time. Members knew Prindle did this frequently, and investigators say it was a common complaint by other members to the bartenders.
Investigators say that consistently during the morning shift before opening, when Prindle was working, the cashboxes on the machines were opened and emptied more than once. They say this is referred to as an extra pull from the cashboxes and is not necessary.
Court documents state that other bartenders denied any involvement in the theft or having any knowledge of how or who committed the theft. Investigators say they told them it was a normal practice for Prindle to loan and authorize them to loan certain members money from the Missouri Lottery Register to play the Pull Tab Machines.
According to court documents, they were advised to place a note in the drawer indicating the member’s name and loan amount. This loaned money would be paid back by the member in the days following and then placed in an envelope with the debtor’s name and Prindle’s name on the outside of the envelope.
They said they only knew the envelope was in the register and did not know how that money was accounted for, but they would not enter it into their register total.
According to investigators, the bartenders all found this activity suspicious, but were only doing as they were told by their supervisor.
While talking to Prindle, investigators say he told them he did not believe any money was missing and that it was an accounting error.