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Red Mule employee arrested for theft

Thursday, September 27, 2012

A Cherokee Village man has been arrested for stealing over $11,000 in cash and an unknown amount of lottery tickets from his former employer, The Red Mule of Highland. Brett Edwards, 26, was charged with felony theft of property on Sept. 18.

Police records indicate Kathy McComas, an employee of the business, contacted Highland Police Chief Jeremy Stevens on Sept. 17 to report that she believed that Edwards was stealing money. Stevens went to the Red Mule and was given business records by owner Akop Kaladzhyan (Jack Akop). The records were from the time period that Edwards worked at the convenience store, and made McComas and Akop suspect that Edwards was involved in a theft or series of thefts from the store.

Stevens, in turn, contacted Arkansas State Police Special Agent Wendell Jines requesting assistance with the case. After making contact with the owners, Jines' investigation of the company's business records uncovered thefts in the amount of $11,028.75. Jines reached that figure by comparing business records with cash register sales and deposit records. Jines further discovered all the funds that were missing occurred on days when Edwards was working. The probable cause affidavit for Edward's arrest states both sales and deposit records were hand recorded by Edwards.

Jines and Stevens were present when Edwards arrived at the Highland Police Department for an interview. During the interview, Edwards confessed to taking money from the Red Mule, telling the officers he took the money to pay personal expenses and buy lottery tickets. He explained that he altered the deposits to reflect a lower number and kept the remaining cash. Edwards also admitted to stealing an undetermined amount of lottery tickets. Stevens said the investigation of the theft of lottery tickets is ongoing, and an official from the lottery commission will work to determine the amount of tickets that were stolen.

Edwards was arrested and taken into custody on Sept. 18. He was transported to the Sharp County Detention Facility where his bond was set at $10,000 cash or professional.

In a related incident filed the night the initial report was taken, there was an altercation between Edwards and Mo Akop, the son of the Red Mule owner. Stevens said the incident is still under investigation, and other charges are expected to be filed.

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