It started small.
$13 one day, $60 another.
But then someone charged 4Rivers Smokehouse $892.95 in a customer refund.
The Gainesville restaurant has lost $40,482 since last September.
In that time, Jacob Kendall George, then the restaurant’s manager, issued more than 350 fake customer refunds and pocketed the cash.
“He got confident, he got a little greedy, he got foolish – and he took a lot of money,” said Det. Mathew Goeckel, who arrested George Thursday afternoon.
Following a corporate audit and a Gainesville Police investigation, George was charged with grand theft and fraud, and taken to the Alachua County Jail, Goeckel said during press conference on Friday.
As manager of the restaurant, George was responsible for issuing customer refunds when necessary. He was also responsible for counting the restaurant’s money at the end of each workday, according to a police report.
The smokehouse chain has 13 locations but just one in Gainesville. During the month of December, all other 4Rivers Smokehouses made a combined total of 12 cash returns, not including the Gainesville location.
George made 101 returns in the same time span.
“Basically there were no customers at the register when he was doing this,” Goeckel said. “Sometimes there was not even a cash drawer in the register.”
He would make refunds for as little as $13.77 and as big as $892.95, but the average refund amount was $110, according to the report. From Nov. 3 to Nov. 6, 2015, George made 12 consecutive refunds for exactly $59.32 each time.
“He had previously been open with his co-workers that he’s in a large amount of debt,” Goeckel said. “We suspect that is probably his motivation behind doing this.”
After combing through the restaurant’s audit reports and checking its surveillance footage, police visited George at his home, where he was in the process of moving away.
George is currently being held in lieu of a $30,000 bond.