Former mall marketer says she is happy charges were droppedPublished 9:16am Wednesday, March 20, 2013
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For more than three years, former Clarks Grove resident Beth Staser has denied allegations that she made fraudulent purchases and withdrawals as the marketing director at Northbridge Mall.
Because of the charges, Staser said, she lost friends, her job and at one point almost became homeless.
“I had to move out of town,” said Staser, who now lives in Faribault. “I couldn’t find work. I couldn’t find a place to live.”
She faced felony charges of theft and diverting corporate property for reportedly making more than $11,000 in fraudulent purchases, transfers and withdrawals using the mall merchants association bank account in 2009. But even as the charges were filed against her, she maintained her innocence, praying one day the truth would come out.
At the end of December, the Freeborn County Attorney’s Office dismissed both of the charges against Staser after she paid $1,370 in restitution to the mall.
Assistant Freeborn County Attorney David Walker said the defense had obtained an accountant who submitted a report showing that the financial records did not substantiate a misappropriation of funds. They also argued other irregularities in accounting.
He said though the mall’s property manager was still confident that a theft had occurred, the evidence did not prove beyond a reasonable doubt that Staser had committed the theft.
“All parties agreed to the compromise as a reasonable means of resolving the allegation,” he said.
Staser said the day the charges were dismissed was the best day of her life.
“I was absolutely elated to get my life back,” she said, noting that she had been “blindsided” by the case. “I don’t have any ill feelings toward anybody, but the evidence was never there. There was no misconduct with anything I did with that account.”
Staser said her family and friends at First Baptist Church of Clarks Grove rallied around her and gave her strength to get through the trial.
“I’ve learned that truly faith in God is the only thing that’s going to get you through hard times,” she said.
In an article the Tribune published when Staser began her position in July of 2009, she said it was her goal to keep people shopping locally, creating more family-oriented events.
Now, she said, she has anxiety even going anywhere near the mall.
Northbridge Mall Property Manager Barb Fate declined to comment for this story.