A former general manager of Market Street Diner accused of stealing more than $180,000 stood mute to the charges against her in a June 25 Dane County Circuit Court preliminary hearing.
Debra Riphahn-Vera, 54, of Windsor, was charged in Dane County Circuit Court with theft, business setting over $10,000, theft-false representation over $10,000 and theft-moveable property over $10,000.
Judge William Hanrahan entered a not-guilty plea on behalf of Riphahn-Vera at Tuesday’s hearing.
According to the criminal complaint, Food Fight Restaurant Group, that owns the diner, noticed that deposits were not being made at the Bank of Sun Prairie, during the last week of December 2015. When Food Fight chief financial officer contacted Riphahn-Vera on Dec. 31, 2015, she had no explanation for the missing cash deposits.
Riphahn-Vera is accused of stealing from the business three ways, according to the criminal complaint, including $18,281 in cash in the final week of employment.
According to the criminal complaint, Riphahn-Vera used a “charge-back” system between September 2014-November 2015, to purchasing items with a credit card or direct billing to Market Street Diner, including glasses, metal tins and paper shopping bags for her business, the Wisconsin Candle Company on E. Main Street in Sun Prairie. The company relocated to Waunakee in 2017. Investigators reported that Riphahn-Vera shipped some of the items she bought online to her Sun Prairie home. She then turned in fraudulent invoices to the Market Street Diner and was paid, Sun Prairie Police reported.
Riphahn-Vera also is accused of stealing money using accounts receivable checks from the diner’s bakery and catering operations to cover up for the cash thefts from the daily restaurant deposits.
Charges were filed against Riphahn-Vera on May 10, 2019.
Riphahn-Vera has been released on a $500 signature bond since May 13, 2019. As part of her bail conditions, she is prohibited from handling any money, accounts or financial document of a third party and cannot buy or sell any real estate over $1,000 except to hire legal counsel.
A final pre-trial hearing is set for Aug. 14.
According to the criminal complaint, Riphahn-Vera is known by five other names: Debra L. Kahn, Debra Smelcer, Debra L. Vera, Debra Thao and Debra Kiemde.
Debra Riphahn-Vera, charged as Debra Smelcer, was found guilty in 2009 of issuing worthless checks and misappropriating ID to obtain money. She was on probation until March 2014 as part of a plea agreement. The court ordered that income be withheld from her employer, Food Fight Restaurant Group, to pay restitution in that case.