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EAST PROVIDENCE â€“ According to Police Chief Joseph Tavares, the city managed to save Santa Claus' reputation thanks to the steadfast work of his detectives.
The woman accused of concocting a tale about the jolly old elf stealing cash from the East Providence Yacht Club bar faced a judge at Sixth District Court on Thursday. Once there, police charged Christal Johnson, 37, of 2400 Hartford Ave., Johnston with felony embezzlement and falsely reporting a crime, a misdemeanor.
Police claim Johnson robbed about $1,600 from the club's bar on Sunday night, Dec. 19. Johnson had stated to police that evening she had been preparing the room for patrons when a man dressed as Santa Claus entered the bar area and pulled from his bag a shotgun or rifle-like weapon.
The rather rotund suspect, she said, wore a white beard, a rad hat and red suit jacket with jeans. She indicated she managed to escape to an area establishment, and â€“ upon returning â€“ discovered the cash missing.
â€śBecause she was a yacht club employee, she had been entrusted with the money on the premises, but converted it to her own use,â€ť Tavares said Friday. â€śThat's why she's being charged with felony embezzlement. With these new charges, the investigation is now complete.
â€śWe take this kind of thing very seriously,â€ť he added. â€śI mean, what's next? The Easter Bunny? Because of the due diligence of our investigators, Christmas was not canceled in the city of East Providence.â€ť
The judge released Johnson on personal recognizance, but is slated to return to court on March 17, ironically enough St. Patrick's Day.