Villager sentenced in $15,000 theft from popular local diner

Paula Petras

A Villager who had been working as a waitress at a popular diner in Florida’s Friendliest Hometown has been sentenced in the theft of $15,000 from her employer.

Paula Jean Petras, 47, who had been living at at 1372 Zest Ave. in the Leyton Villas in the Village of Dunedin at the time of her arrest in April, on Nov. 18 in Sumter County Court was placed on five years probation after pleading no contest to a charge of grand theft. She was also ordered to perform 80 hours of community service.

Edward Dunn, the manager at Darrell’s Diner at Pinellas Plaza where Petras had been employed, 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. The was done primarily if a customer complained about the quality of a meal.

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 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 at the Wildwood Police Station, said she was not guilty. She said the transactions were not intentional but were a “mistake.”

Petras, who previously went by the name 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.

In 2011, she was convicted on a charge of driving under the influence and later served time in jail after violating her probation in that case.

Court records indicate Petras is now living in Belleview. Her husband filed for divorce on Nov. 22 of this year.