MANKATO — Managers at the local Pizza Ranch, who reckoned they had a tip rustler on the premises, contacted a lawman and the alleged bandit is now in a heap of trouble.
Emerald Lee Hope Bonebrake, 19, of St. Peter, is facing five gross misdemeanor fraud charges for allegedly adding generous tips to the credit card payments of customers without their consent.
Bonebrake was working the cash register at the Pizza Ranch when she forged multiple credit card charges between Aug. 11 and Sept. 6, according to a criminal complaint filed in Blue Earth County District Court.
Both the general manager and overnight manager at the western-themed Tullamore Street buffet were suspicious of the large tips — $10 to $15 — on food bills of as little as $17.87.
"The defendant claimed that she was flirting with the customers and that was why she was getting such large tips," the general manager told a Mankato investigator.
Further investigation discovered at least 19 customers who unknowingly had tips added to their bills over a four-week span, according to the complaint.
Five counts of financial transaction card fraud were filed against Bonebrake this week, each a gross misdemeanor. Restitution is also being sought.