Former pizzeria manager accused of stealing nearly $12K in ‘loans’

Recorder Staff
Monday, October 09, 2017

ATHOL — A Worcester County man has pleaded innocent to a larceny charge stemming from an accusation that he stole nearly $12,000 from the Tunnel Street pizzeria that employed him for two and a half years.

Jason A. Chandler, 39, who lives in Fitchburg, faces a single charge of larceny over $250 by single scheme for allegedly taking multiple “personal loans” from Zeda’s Pizza & Restaurant at 11 Tunnel St. while working as its manager.

He was arraigned in Orange District Court on Friday.

According to police, a man who said he used to own Zeda’s said Chandler, who worked for him from July 2014 until January 2017, took $8,819.02 from the pizzeria’s cash box as payouts to himself and depleted the safe cash reserve of $1,200. In a written statement, the former owner said he does not handle the daily cash receipts and was unaware Chandler was taking “loans” almost every day until an employee asked how much he was going to let Chandler borrow.

The former owner told police he confronted Chandler, who said he needed the extra cash to make child support payments, but would stop immediately and pay back all the money. The two reportedly set up a repayment plan and a continued employment plan was outlined and signed. However, the former owner claims Chandler has failed to follow the plan.

Chandler acknowledged to police that he took the $11,819.02 and he documented each case. He also said there had been a verbal agreement and he thought he would take ownership of the pizzeria after running it for roughly a year and a half. Chandler said there was an agreement between him and the former owner that the “loans” would be recouped after the restaurant was signed over to him. He also said he had been working 85 to 90 hours a week but was getting paid for 40 only.

Chandler said he was eventually moved to the pizzeria’s Fitchburg location and a portion of every paycheck would be used to pay down his debt. He said he still intends to pay back all the money but has been unable to do so.

A pretrial conference is set for Nov. 20.

Reach Domenic Poli at: dpoli@recorder.com