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Merchant fined $500 for stealing from Fischer’s Newsroom

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 10 September 2013 at 12:00 am

ALBION A downtown Albion merchant has avoided jail and Probation for stealing from a fellow business owner.

Denise VanWagner, 60, of Medina has paid $7,000 in restitution. She doesn’t have a prior criminal record. Today she was fined $500 by Judge Richard Koch and ordered to perform 40 hours of community service.

Koch handled the case for Judge James Punch. VanWagner pleaded guilty in May to attempted petty larceny. She has told law enforcement officials she doesn’t remember taking money from Fischer’s Newsroom, where police say she stole $28,303.

VanWagner, owner of the Place To Go consignment shop, would go to Fischer’s and watch the store while owner Gary Withey took a bathroom break. Withey became suspicious about the theft and marked $20 bills that VanWagner then allegedly stole. One time he hid behind a door and witnessed her taking the money. He then called the Albion police.

In March, VanWagner was arraigned on charges of third-degree grand larceny and fifth-degree criminal possession of stolen property.

VanWagner declined to speak to the court during her sentencing this morning.

“You were caught with your proverbial hand in the cookie jar,” Koch told her. “You took advantage of a friendship with the Witheys.”

Gary and Denise Withey accepted the $7,000 restitution. They wanted to avoid a trial. They may pursue civil litigation to recover more money.

Koch told VanWagner she should admit her crime and apologize to the Witheys.

“The monster you have to confront is yourself,” the judge told her. “Your inability to say I made a mistake is the most troubling part about you.”