POSTED: Thursday, January 5, 2012 - 8:50am
UPDATED: Thursday, January 5, 2012 - 10:22am
LUFKIN — Rita Cambiano was arrested on Tuesday for stealing money from her employer, the Ellen Trout Zoo in Lufkin.
The zoo's Director, Gordon Henley, tells KETK, he was approached by Cambiano who admitted stealing about $14,000 from the gift shop during the spring and summer months of 2011.
Cambiano told Gordon she kept money that was meant for deposit, and when guilt overcame her she felt compelled to contact the Director. Gordon tells KETK, he had not been aware of the theft, but that the stolen money would have been revealed in an audit.
Gordon emphasized the fact that the money stolen was not money from the City of Lufkin, but was money specifically from the Ellen Trout Zoo.
Cambiano was fired from her job as manager of the zoo's gift shop, and Gordon has enacted measures to prevent this kind of theft in the future.
The Ellen Trout Zoo now has stricter money handling procedures, and will ensure that money is handled by more than one person.
Cambiano was booked into Angelina County Jail for theft, and was released on January 3, 2011, on a $2,500 bond.
On August 09, 2011, Gordon Henley with Ellen Trout Zoo reported to Lufkin Police Department that a Zoo employee, Rita Cambiano, stole money from the Zoo’s gift shop.
Mr. Henley told the reporting officer that Ms. Cambiano, an employee at the Zoo’s gift shop, came to him two weeks prior to his reporting the theft and informed him that between the months of May and July of that year she stole money from the gift shop. Mr. Henley stated that Ms. Cambiano told him that she stole the money to pay for expensive medical treatment she required and that she intended to pay back the money as soon as she was able.
Mr. Henley stated that Ms. Cambiano provided him deposit slips indicating that the total amount of the theft was $14,149.96. Mr. Henley stated that Ms. Cambiano told him how she was stealing the money but he did not understand the process.
Mr. Henley stated that Ms. Cambiano provided him a written statement admitting to the theft, and that she later paid $200 toward repayment of the money.
Mr. Gordon stated that Friends of the Ellen Trout Zoo Inc. own the Zoo’s gift shop, so he informed the organization's board members of the situation and the board members, after holding a meeting to discuss the theft, decided to terminate Ms. Cambiano's employment and pursue a criminal charge of theft.
The investigation was forward to Lufkin Police Department Detective Havard.
On November 03, 2011, Ms. Cambiano met with Detective Havard and confessed to stealing money from the gift shop’s bank deposits.
On December 28, 2011, after Ted Fajen, Board President for the Friends of the Ellen Trout Zoo Inc., informed Detective Havard that the organization did wish to pursue a criminal charge of theft, Detective Havard sought, and Judge Billy Ball issued, a warrant for the arrest of Rita Cambiano for the State Jail Felony offense of Theft (warrant #F31072).
On January 03, 2012, Rita Cambiano surrendered to Detective Havard at Angelina County Jail and was booked-in for the Theft warrant.
Information from Lufkin Police