Woman accused of stealing $8,760 from Manchester restaurant
By Patrick McArdle
STAFF WRITER | March 19,2014
BENNINGTON — At a time when there has been a lot of interest in the problem of heroin in Vermont, a recent arraignment and the accompanying affidavit gives unusual insight into the problems faced by alleged addicts and their families.
On Monday, Tamara Bruce, 30, of Dorset, was arraigned in Bennington criminal court on 16 felony counts over two dockets and three misdemeanor charges. The felonies were 15 counts of forgery and one count of grand larceny while the misdemeanors were using false tokens to obtain less than $900 and one count each of possession of a stimulant drug and a narcotic drug.
Bruce pleaded innocent to all the charges and was ordered held on $2,500 bail, although the bail will be suspended if she obtains a bed at an in-house treatment facility.
The story of how this affected Bruce and her family, including a newborn baby, is spelled out in the affidavits filed in each case.
Manchester Police Chief Michael Hall said he has known Bruce’s mother, Bonnie Bruce, for almost 40 years. Bonnie Bruce owns a popular Main Street restaurant in Manchester, Up for Breakfast.
Hall said that Bonnie Bruce had shared some concerns with him in the fall that Tamara had “fallen back in drug usage. Another concern was that Tamara was pregnant.”
Bonnie Bruce said she believed her daughter had been stealing checks from the restaurant, forging Bonnie’s signature and using the money to support her drug addiction. Bonnie told Hall that the family had been trying to get Tamara Bruce into rehabilatation, but the pregnancy made that complicated.
“The child was born on Jan. 29 and is now in (Vermont Department of Children and Families) custody. It is my understanding that the child underwent a month of detoxification at Albany (N.Y.) Medical Center, followed by further treatment at Southwestern Vermont Medical Center,” Hall said.
Hall said the Bruce family had faced a “significant dilemma” when deciding to delay filing charges against Tamara, but an incident on March 10 had persuaded them to go to the police.
While Bonnie was in Florida on March 10, another daughter, Meghan Bruce, found that Tamara’s car was missing from the outside of the home and a safe and a flat-screen television were missing.
Hall said the bookkeeper from Bonnie Bruce’s restaurant provided copies of 13 checks that were cashed for a total of about $8,760.
The second affidavit provided more information about the missing safe. Trooper Paul Sokolowski Jr. said he learned from Bonnie Bruce that the safe contained personal and business checks, credit cards, cash, including collectors coins, and the key to a 2006 Audi A4.
The car was registered to Tamara Bruce, but Bonnie Bruce said she had paid for car repairs in exchange for her daughter giving her the only two keys to the car, one of which was in the safe and the other kept by Bonnie Bruce personally.
Bonnie Bruce told police that a check for $385 had already been cashed.
On March 14, Tamara Bruce gave police a sworn written statement that said that she had been in Troy, N.Y., on March 9. She said a drug dealer, who she told police was named “Black,” had threatened the lives of Tamara Bruce and her family because she owed him about $1,500.
“He continued to tell me I didn’t want to know what he would do to myself or my family if I didn’t get him the money or something of value that day. At that point, I was terrified of what may happen. … He, with another male, drove to my parents’ house and they took the TV from the living room wall and the safe out of my parents’ office. It made me sick to think of what was happening though I didn’t feel I had any other choice,” Tamara Bruce wrote.
However, when Tamara Bruce gave police permission to conduct a search, officers found many items, last seen in the safe, in Tamara Bruce’s bedroom and car on March 14.