Legal proceedings move forward in business theft case

WORTHINGTON - During an omnibus hearing in Nobles County District Court on Wednesday, a former Worthington woman claimed she worked 18 to 20 hours a day, seven days a week, which is what led to her telling her boss she had stolen funds.

Charlene Long, age 59, testified that she was in "panic mode" during a conversation in which Radio Works Owner/General Manager Chad Cummings asked her about discrepancies in the finances of the business. Long, who is facing 11 counts of felony-level theft, is accused of stealing over $186,000 from Radio Works over a six year period.

The hearing was centered around several legal arguments, one of which claims Cummings and co-owner John Daniels threatened Long during the private conversation they had in November 2017 that resulted in Long being dismissed. On Wednesday, both Cummings and Daniels took the stand and testified there were no threats made.

"I asked her if there was anything she wanted to tell us," Cummings said, adding they thought she was responsible for an $11,000 discrepancy. "She admitted to up to $20,000 over two years."

Cummings said Long called herself a slimeball during the conversation, and claimed to be suicidal. Long testified she was exhausted from working such extended hours and when brought into the office with a closed door, she felt "captured" and claustrophobic.

"Are you sure it wasn't because you knew they had uncovered theft of over $100,000 and that you had a reason to panic?" asked Assistant County Attorney Matt Loeffler.

Long alleged she felt she couldn't leave the office, even though she admitted she did not ask to leave.

The prosecution and defense also stated their arguments regarding the issue of discovery, which defense attorney Philip Elbert claims he has not received in its entirety. Loeffler stated the entire personnel file he received has been disclosed, and that the county attorney's office is not obligated to go out and find evidence which favors the accused.

Judge Terry Vajgrt asked Elbert why he has not just subpoenaed the records from Radio Works.

Elbert said because the case revolves around employee malfeasance and unauthorized  wages, he should have received more evidence regarding Long's timesheets. Long was a salaried employee.

Both attorneys will have time to submit briefs, after which the judge will rule on the legal proceedings.

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