A Villager with a hefty criminal record was jailed Wednesday night after he admitted to ripping off money from a tip jar at a Summerfield pizzeria.
Marion County sheriff’s deputies were called to Little Joey’s Italian Restaurant, located at 16840 S U.S. Hwy. 27/441 in the Baylee Plaza, and when they arrived, the owner said a heavy-set white man wearing an orange shirt and black pants – later identified as 43-year-old Village of Chatham resident Scott Robert Kerster – had grabbed money from the tip jar on the counter and placed it in his right pants pocket. He said Kerster, who is 5-foot-11-inches tall, weighs 450 pounds and also goes by Scott Fudge, attempted to take more money from the jar before a clerk came around a corner and saw him, a sheriff’s office report states.
The owner confronted Kerster and he gave him back one $10 bill. But he refused to return the remaining $7 and left the eatery, the report says.
Deputies reviewed video surveillance of the incident and reported seeing Kerster looking at the tip jar as the clerk walked away and then grabbing several dollars and placing it into his right pocket. An overhead view revealed that Kerster took a $10 bill, a $5 bill and two $1 bills, the report says.
After one of the deputies recognized Kerster and said he had dealt with him several times in the past, they responded to his Villages residence at 17416 SE 74th Seabrook Ct. Kerster was just finishing eating his food from Little Joey’s and was wearing the same clothes as the surveillance video portrayed, the report says.
After being read his rights, Kerster admitted to taking the money from the tip jar and said he had returned a $10 bill. He refused to say where the other $7 was and claimed he had spoken to the owner “who advised that all was good” and he didn’t want to press charges – a claim that was quickly denied.
Kerster was taken into custody and transported to the Marion County Jail, where he was charged with larceny/petit theft (third or subsequent offense). He was released Thursday on his own recognizance and is due in court April 28 at 9 a.m. to answer to the charge.
Kerster is no stranger to the tri-county legal system, having been held in local jails 12 times since January 2005. He has been in the Marion County Jail 10 times on a variety of charges that include – some more than once – having no valid driver’s license, petit theft, felony petit theft, grand theft, fraudulent use of identification, criminal use of personal identification, burglary and criminal mischief. He was convicted of petit theft (third or subsequent offense) on Oct. 6, 2015 and served one year in the Marion County Jail.
Kerster also has a record in Lake County, where he has twice been arrested. The latest came in February 2012 when he was charged with a probation violation. Prior to that, he was arrested in April 2010 and charged with larceny/theft (between $300 and $5,000).