Former employee arrested for embezzlement from TGI Fridays locations



TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (WTXL) - A former bookkeeper is facing nearly 50 charges in Leon County after admitting that she embezzled over $43,000 from two TGI Fridays in Florida.

According to court documents, 63-year-old Patricia Chester, who was going by the last name Gillman at the time, stole money from Gulf Atlantic Dining (GAD) for at least five years.

From 2012 to 2017, Chester did bookkeeping and payroll for GAD Tallahassee Inc. and GAD Destin Inc., which manage the TGI Fridays in Tallahassee and Destin. Investigators note the TGI Fridays in Destin is now closed due to financial losses.

When the owner of the TGI Fridays (GAD) announced they were selling some of the businesses, she left for Utah, promoting the owners to hire a new firm to audit the businesses' in preparation for the sale.

However, before she left town, accountants learned that Chester may have been stealing from the businesses for years.

In June 2017, the accountants reported their findings to the Tallahassee Police Department. They told police that several suspicious checks from the businesses' bank accounts had been written out to Chester and had all been 'signed' by one of the owners using a signature stamp.

"All of the checks written to [Chester] appear to have been concealed in the businesses' prepared financial statements as various payments such as food, liquor, and cleaning services," the investigator wrote.

Based on the evidence, the accountants told police that the person responsible for writing the checks was Chester.

Further investigation showed that Chester had been previously convicted for embezzlement and began employment in 2012, right after being released from prison.

When police interviewed Chester in December, she told them "I stole it," saying that she took the money to help her family. When she was shown a spreadsheet breaking down the $43,750 she stole, she stated "that looks about right."

As a result, Chester was charged with one count of grand theft ($20,000 to $100,000), 24 counts of counterfeiting a payment instrument, and 24 counts of uttering.

She was taken into custody on Thursday and, as of Friday, remains in the Leon County Detention Center on a $35,046 bond.

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