Skip to content

Ex-manager sentenced after stealing from North Burnaby pub for years

Former Admiral Pub & Grill manager Chesley (Burt) Verge, 61, has been sentenced to house arrest and community work service and ordered to pay $10,000 in restitution after pleading guilty to stealing money from the Heights business for years.
Admiral Pub
Former Admiral Pub & Grill manager Chesley (Burt) Verge has pleaded guilty to stealing money from the Hastings Street business for years.

A former manager at Burnaby’s Admiral Pub & Grill has been ordered to pay $10,000 in restitution and sentenced to house arrest and community work service after admitting to stealing money from the business for years.

Chesley Verge, who also goes by the name Burt Verge, was in Vancouver provincial court Monday and pleaded guilty to one count of theft over $5,000.

‘Trustworthy’

Crown prosecutor Cory Lo said the exact sum the 61-year-old stole is in dispute.

The pub said the thefts totalled $56,384.70 over three years, but Verge estimated it was more like $16,000, according to information presented at his sentencing.

Verge had been working at the pub, located on Hastings Street in the heart of the Burnaby Heights neighbourhood, for about a decade when a new owner, Amir Sadath Ardehali, took over in 2007, according to Lo.

Lo said the previous owner had recommended Verge as “trustworthy and a good worker,” according to Lo, so Sadath Ardehali kept him on.

Over the years that followed, Sadath Ardehali would go on to place a “great deal of trust” in Verge, Lo said.

“When I talked to him in preparation for this trial, Mr. Sadath Ardehali said he was a great friend and, in many ways, he considered him his family,” Lo said.

All that unravelled in 2017.

Along with the pub, Sadath Ardehali also owned Value On Liquor in Vancouver.

One day, the manager of that business was on vacation, so Verge filled in.

Unbeknownst to him, however, the business practices at Value On Liquor were different from those at the pub, according to Lo.

‘Over and over again’

At the pub, Lo said, managers filled out daily spreadsheets that balanced cash and card transactions with sales to make sure the right amount of cash was deposited at the bank every night. But the pub also used a secondary system (ACCPAC), which only Verge filled out – and the accountant who came in to check the books every month only checked the ACCPAC printouts.

The Value On Liquor business was newer, however, so controls there were tighter, according to Lo, and the daily process also included comparing the ACCPAC numbers directly to figures from the point of sale terminal.

After Verge worked at the store, Save On Liquor discovered a $200 discrepancy.

That raised suspicions since that particular kind of discrepancy had never been discovered at the business before, according to Lo.

Those suspicions prompted the company to comb back through the accounts at the pub as well.

They went back three years and looked at the period between January 2014 and January 2017.

“When they checked those day-to-day point of sale numbers with the accounting numbers, they discovered the same pattern repeated over and over again on the days that Mr. Verge was working,” Lo said.

The amounts that disappeared weren’t big, usually no more than a few hundred dollars, sometimes just $20, but the thefts were consistent and went on for years.

“I can’t prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the fraud happened before 2014, but certainly there’s no evidence before the court that it only started in 2014.”

‘Incredibly upsetting’

The financial loss was significant but what hurt Sadath Ardehali the most was the broken trust, according to Lo.

“It was incredibly upsetting,” he said.

Lo called for an 18-month suspended sentence with a period of house arrest followed by two years of probation as well as a $10,000 restitution order.

He noted Verge didn’t have a previous criminal record and had pleaded guilty, although the plea had come “relatively late in the day” – just two weeks earlier.

Defence lawyer Kristy Neurauter called for a nine-month conditional sentence with no probation.

She said Verge – now a janitor at Burnaby 8 Rinks as well as a part-time tango instructor – is in a longterm relationship and helps care for his partner’s autistic son, although the pair live at different residences.

Neurauter said Verge had been under “significant financial pressure” during the period of the thefts because he had just begun helping support the mother and son.

Verge stole “small amounts of money here and there” and “dug himself deeper and deeper over the years,” according to Neurauter.

“He is ashamed and embarrassed and deeply regrets his actions,” she said.

After Sadath Ardehali and an accountant first confronted Verge about the thefts in January 2017, Neurauter said Verge initially apologized and expressed remorse but then denied the whole thing to police.  

He did eventually plead guilty, however, and ultimately saved the court and Sadath Ardehali a four-day trial, Neurauter noted.

House arrest, $10,000 restitution

In the end, B.C. provincial court Judge Patricia Stark handed Verge a one-year conditional sentence, with four months of house arrest followed by eight months under a curfew.

She also ordered Verge to complete 30 hours of community work service and pay $10,000 in restitution.

Stark said the most significant aggravating factor in the case was Verge’s breach of trust, which took place over a “very long time” and only stopped when he was caught.

“You committed criminal offences over and over to an accumulation of a lot of money, taking money from someone you were not entitled to take it from and while in a trust position,” Stark said.

But Stark also noted Verge had otherwise been a law-abiding citizen and had eventually pleaded guilty.

She concluded a jail sentence was warranted but said allowing Verge to serve his sentence in the community would not “endanger the safety of the community” and would be consistent with fundamental sentencing principles.

Follow Cornelia Naylor on Twitter @CorNaylor
Email cnaylor@burnabynow.com

 

push icon
Be the first to read breaking stories. Enable push notifications on your device. Disable anytime.
No thanks