ANDERSON — The owner of Gene’s Root Beer Stand and two former carhops have reached an agreement.
Susan Coppess and Courtney Smith, two former carhops for the restaurant, alleged owner Andrew Moorman was taking a percentage of tips from carhops and also rang up purchases before restaurant hours. The two made the accusations in June, and on Friday they each received $625 in restitution from Moorman. The amount was confirmed by Madison County Prosecutor Rodney Cummings.
Also as part of the agreement finalized Tuesday, Moorman will plead guilty to criminal conversion, a misdemeanor, and he will participate in a pretrial diversion program. The program is offered by a county prosecutor in cases where the subject has no significant prior criminal records and has been charged with certain offenses. Upon successful completion of the program, Moorman’s charge could be dismissed.
“It’s a sad situation all around,” said Coppess on Tuesday. “It wasn’t all about getting the money back. We wanted to let the public be aware of what happened. We wanted to let the other carhops know what (Moorman) had been doing. And we feel like the customers have a right to know because they tip carhops for good service. We have no hard feelings toward Andy. Everyone makes mistakes.”
Coppess, an employee for four years, said Moorman approached employees at the beginning of 2012 and said he would be taking 2 percent of their tip money to help cover food costs and other expenses. Apparently, one carhop eventually had an attorney inform Moorman that the practice is illegal and ask him to stop. Moorman then paid some of the money back, according to Coppess.
At the beginning of June 2012, Coppess discovered Moorman and a manager had been ringing up purchases before the restaurant opened, purchases the carhops would be required to cover. Coppess said she confronted the owner about it, and he allegedly told her that if she did not go to the police she would have a job for life.
When she lost her job in March, Coppess decided to go to the police. Coppess said she had receipt records and an audio recording that backed up her claims. She said those materials were passed on to police. Coppess also said that Moorman offered her $400 to drop her complaint to Anderson police, but she declined the offer.
Coppess and Smith picketed in front of the restaurant in the 600 block of South Scatterfield Road on June 27.
Bryan Williams, Moorman’s attorney, said Moorman is an upstanding member of the community whose business has been a fixture in Madison County for decades. He said Moorman has been cooperative and contrite.
“You have to think, this company has employed hundreds of people over the years, and there have been two that have complained. That’s a pretty good ratio,” Williams said.
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