Former Bi-Rite Gifts manager takes plea deal

Sherry Roberts

Sherry Roberts

By Trudy Balcom

RAWLINS — Sherry Roberts appeared in Carbon County District Court Wednesday afternoon for a change of plea hearing. The former manager of Bi-Rite Gifts appeared subdued and calm.

Judge Michael Deegan of Campbell County presided over Roberts’ plea hearing — she pleaded no-contest to a charge of theft, her voice barely above a whisper.

According to a plea agreement made Wednesday, in exchange for Roberts no-contest plea, her sentence of three to six years in prison may be suspended for three years supervised probation.

Roberts will also have to pay $38,500 in restitution.

Deputy Prosecuting Attorney Dawnessa Snyder said that she had met with Rod Waeckerlin, former owner of Bi-Rite Gifts, and his attorney, Kurt Kelly, and that they felt the agreement was fair.

“He believes probation is appropriate…based upon the lack of criminal history,” she said.

Judge Deegan warned Roberts that the court is not bound by the terms of the plea agreement. He informed her that the court would perform a pre-sentence investigation, and if the investigation turned up any information about her that suggested she should serve a different sentence, the court would take that into consideration.

“The court,” he said, “will make an independent decision as to the propriety of the sentence.”

In January, Roberts, 59, of Rawlins, was arrested in connection with a gift card scam at the store, which later closed.

Waeckerlin had noticed that Bi-Rite Gifts had been losing money for some time, according to an affidavit. A bookkeeper for the business, Shauna Roberts, “discovered that about $35,000 in gift cards (had) been activated through the gift shop but that (had) not been paid for,” the affidavit states.

A lengthy Rawlins Police Department investigation revealed that Roberts had signed for items purchased with the gift cards at local stores and other businesses. The affidavit initially charged her with theft in the amount of $7,444 in 75 different transactions with stolen gift cards in a three-month period between November 2014 and February 2015.

Sentencing in the case is tentatively scheduled for Aug. 31.

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