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Graffiti restaurant reports $20K theft

Published: Thursday, December 29, 2011 at 9:52 a.m.
Last Modified: Thursday, December 29, 2011 at 9:52 a.m.

Police are investigating a report that a former employee embezzled $20,000 from the Graffiti Restaurant in downtown Petaluma.

Police confirmed they received a report on Dec. 6 of an embezzlement, but Lt. Tim Lyons said more information is needed before the investigation can continue.

“We have received a report that an employee embezzled money, but it requires a lot of financial documents and statements we haven't yet received,” Lyons said.

He said a detective has been assigned to the case.

Maureen McGowan, the restaurant's owner, said she was under the impression she had already given the police the documentation they required.

“Everything is documented,” she said. “It started shortly after my son was injured.”

McGowan is the mother of former Petaluma High track standout Danny Cox, who was injured and left paralyzed in a shallow-water diving accident in Lake Tahoe on Aug. 11, 2010. He died in a traffic crash on Highway 101 near Olompali State Historic Park near Novato on Aug. 7 of this year.

“It (the embezzlement) started a little after my son was injured,” McGowan said. “I couldn't believe it. He took $300 on the day my son died.”

She said the employee, described as a manager, who has not yet been named by police, was apparently discounting sales and pocketing the difference.

McGowan said she didn't miss the money at first because she was busy caring for her severely injured son and dealing with trying to keep her restaurant going at a particularly stressful time in her life.

“I was caring for my son and doing everything I could to keep the business going. I didn't do the normal things I would have done to check up,” she said.

“It has just been one thing after another. I haven't even had the time to grieve for my son.”

(Contact John Jackson at acsports@arguscourier.com)

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