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Bar employee - not Santa Claus - charged with embezzlement

January 16, 2011

EAST PROVIDENCE – 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 – upon returning – discovered the cash missing.
“Because she was a yacht club employee, she had been entrusted with the money on the premises, but converted it to her own use,” Tavares said Friday. “That's why she's being charged with felony embezzlement. With these new charges, the investigation is now complete.
“We take this kind of thing very seriously,” he added. “I 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.”
The judge released Johnson on personal recognizance, but is slated to return to court on March 17, ironically enough St. Patrick's Day.

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