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The Villages
Wednesday, September 27, 2023

Village of Dunedin woman accused of pocketing $15,000 at local diner

Paula Petras

A Village of Dunedin woman is accused of pocketing more than $15,000 at a local diner in The Villages where she worked as a waitress.

Paula Jean Petras, 46, who lives at 1372 Zest Ave., is facing a felony charge of grand theft following her arrest Tuesday by Wildwood police.

Petras worked as a waitress at Darrell’s Diner at Pinellas Plaza where over a period of several months she pocketed $15,092, according to the arrest report.

The restaurant’s manager, Edward Dunn, told police that waitresses collect cash and credit sales throughout the day and settle up with the computer at the end of their shift. Petras had been given the power to override transactions.

Darrell’s Diner at Pinellas Plaza.

Dunn said that when Petras would clear her sales at the end of the day she would only report credit card sales and put all of the cash sales in her pocket. Petras was voiding transactions up to 12 times a day totaling approximately $150 to $175 dollars each day.

The situation came to light after another employee witnessed Petras void a transaction in which cash was paid for a breakfast and the amount of sale was reset to zero, even though cash was paid for the items purchased.

Petras, in an interview Tuesday at the Wildwood Police Station, said she was not guilty. She said the transactions were not intentional. She said it was a “mistake.”

She was booked at the Sumter County Detention Center and released after posting $2,000 bond.

Petras, who previously went by Paula Ayers, was arrested in 2017 after allegedly filing a false police report in which she had claimed she was the victim of a sexual battery. She later escaped prosecution in the case.

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