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Prosecutor: Dry Creek General Store hit with $415,000 theft

Prosecutors say a Healdsburg-area eatery run by a member of the Gallo wine family is the victim of a more than $415,000 embezzlement by a former employee.

The alleged theft occurred at Dry Creek General Store, a popular tourist stop for weekend wine tasters from across the Bay Area and beyond.

An ex-bookkeeper, Elizabeth Lundy, 49, of Windsor is accused of using company accounts to pay her own personal expenses from May 2009 to May 2015.

She was charged earlier this fall with two counts of grand theft with enhancements in the theft o over $100,000 and faces nearly five years in prison if convicted.

“It’s a large loss for the company,” Sonoma County prosecutor Amy Ariyoshi said Monday. “Obviously, it’s a big breach of trust.”

A lawyer for Lundy declined to comment.

Late last year, the store’s management, headed by owner Gina Gallo, became suspicious about its revenue.

The store, which includes a deli, gift shop and bar, should have been taking in more money, Ariyoshi said.

An audit pointed to Lundy, who is suspected of using company accounts to go to restaurants and buy tickets to sporting events, among other things, the prosecutor said.

The total amount stolen over the six-year period was $416,303, she said.

“She was caught because they started wondering where some of the money was going,” Ariyoshi said. “They thought they should have more than they did.”

Lundy was fired and later arrested after the store turned over its findings to sheriff’s detectives. She has since been released on $10,000 bail.

She is expected to enter a plea when she returns to court Jan. 11.

Embezzlement allegations at Dry Creek General Store, built in 1881, are among latest in a string alleged thefts at area businesses and organizations.

Last year, Glynis Lewis, then 45, of Santa Rosa, was sentenced to three years and four months in prison for embezzling $348,000 from the Garrett Ace Hardware store chain where she worked.

In 2014, social worker Larry Gene Sark, then 67, was sentenced to 12 years in prison for stealing about $385,000 from North Bay Developmental Center clients.

Also that year, former Santa Rosa Junior College police Officer Jeffrey Holzworth, then 52, was sentenced to four years in prison for stealing $286,000 from campus parking machines.

You can reach Staff Writer Paul Payne at 707-568-5312 or paul.payne@pressdemocrat.com.

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