Money Skimmed from Merchants Repaid

An employee of the Gulfport Merchants Association who skimmed $21,997 from the organization’s weekly Tuesday Morning Market receipts over about a year’s time has repaid the full debt according to Pinellas County court records.

Steven Merchant of Gulfport admitted to the skimming and was arrested on felony grand theft charges on August 13. He was released from the county jail on his own recognizance on August 14.

According to court records, between December 2015 and June 2017, Merchant assisted his work partner, also employed by the association, “with counting and packaging money” for bank deposits and shorted the cash portion by varying amounts to keep it for himself to use for pain pills.

When the association hired a new treasurer, who took over on June 1, 2017, the financial files were reconciled.

According to court records dated June 27, 2017, Merchant is “currently in treatment,” is being represented by a public defender and the association still wishes to pursue charges.

On August 29, association President Scott Linde wrote in an email to the Gabber, “Our stance at this time is that we cannot comment because this is an ongoing police matter. When the legal process has taken its course, we will be happy to shed additional light on this situation.”

Gulfport Police Commander Mary Farrand also said on August 29 the case remains active and there are no further updates at this time.

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