Restaurant Server Sentenced In Theft Case

OCEAN CITY — An Ocean City restaurant server and Romanian national, charged last month with theft after an elaborate scheme conducted through much of the summer during which she allegedly stole money from guests through various scams and ultimately her employer, pleaded guilty last week and was sentenced to 30 days in jail.

On Sept. 6, an Ocean City Police Department (OCPD) officer responded to the Parched Pelican to investigate a reported theft scheme. The officer met with the restaurant’s general manager, who advised a server identified as Roxana Calugaru, 24, of Ocean City, had been stealing money from customers and the restaurant using several different schemes between July 13 and Aug. 28.

The manager told police he began investigating Calugaru’s activities in the restaurant’s computerized billing system and found that she had been altering the tips on credit card transactions and making unauthorized charges on customer credit cards. The charges Calugaru allegedly made on credit cards were ultimately refunded to the customers’ accounts by the Parched Pelican, making the restaurant the ultimate victim in the alleged scam.

The manager told police each server is required to complete a server report and the end of each shift, which shows the employees cash sales and credit card sales. In some cases, the employee owes money to the restaurant because his or her cash sales exceeded credit card tips. In other cases, the restaurant pays money back to the employee because his or her credit card tops exceed cash sales.

At any rate, the investigation revealed Calugaru was allegedly printing her server report at some point during her shift before she was finishing working for the day. If she did not have any more credit card transactions through the rest of her shift, that was the report Calugaru was submitting at the end. If she had only cash transactions after printing the mid-shift report, she was allegedly pocketing the money. The manager discovered that scheme after comparing the restaurant’s computer billing system with orders placed by the server. In one instance, Calugaru allegedly used that scheme to swipe $280.34 and in another case used the scheme to steal a $46.59 cash transaction.

That was only part of Calugaru’s alleged theft scheme while employed at the restaurant. In another scheme, she would frequently leave a credit card transaction open in the computer after the guests had left and wait for another table to pay her in cash. Calugaru then allegedly applied that transaction to the earlier credit card transaction she had left open, pocketing the cash.

That scam was revealed when the manager compared the final charges on a credit card transaction to the restaurant’s computer billing system, which was easily detectable, according to police reports. Calugaru allegedly carried out that scheme at least a dozen times during the summer with extra charges on credit cards ranging from as low as $10 to as his as $80. In other cases, Calugaru simply altered the credit card tips, entering a large amount then the guest had filled out on the credit card slip.

The investigating OCPD officer met with Calugaru at her other place of employment, the Bayside Skillet, where he was conducting a similar investigation. Calugaru agreed to speak with the officer after being read her rights and the officer determined she was fluent in English. According to police reports, Calugaru told the officer she was a Romanian citizen in Ocean City for the summer on a student visa, which is set to expire on Sept. 30. Calugaru explained she was scheduled to fly back to her native Romania on Oct. 10.

Based on the evidence, Calugaru was arrested and charged with felony theft under $1,000 and theft scheme under $1,000. Last week, Calugaru pleaded guilty to theft scheme from $1,000 to $10,000 and she was sentenced to 30 days in jail.

About The Author: Shawn Soper

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Shawn Soper has been with The Dispatch since 2000. He began as a staff writer covering various local government beats and general stories. His current positions include managing editor and sports editor. Growing up in Baltimore before moving to Ocean City full time three decades ago, Soper graduated from Loch Raven High School in 1981 and from Towson University in 1985 with degrees in mass communications with a journalism concentration and history.