Tim Leeds Havre Daily News firstname.lastname@example.org
Former Duck Inn manager Brent Giachino was ordered to pay significantly more in restitution to his former employer, Bill Dritshulas, than his attorney had argued should be payed but significantly less than what Dritshulas had said he had caused in damages to the business. Judge David Rice, in a written judgment filed Tuesday ordered Giachino, who pleaded guilty to misdemeanor charges of criminal mischief and negligent endangerment in a plea agreement in May, to pay $4,561 in restitution plus a 10 percent fee. Rice ordered that Giachino begin paying a monthly amount of no less than $190 by July 15 and continue with monthly payments until the the amount is paid in full. Rice wrote in the restitution order that nothing in the order restricts the victim from filing a civil suit. Dritshulas said this morning that he is considering taking civil action against Giachino. “I’m in consultation with our attorney about that,” he said. Giachino could not be reached for comment this morning. Giachino was originally charged with criminal mischief and criminal endangerment, both felonies, after he was accused of on July 24, 2007, taking items, including a calendar and scheduling book listing group reservations at the Havre restaurant, and turning off and changing settings on items in the business, including unplugging coolers, turning the water heater on the highest setting and turning on boosters on the commercial dishwasher. Dritshulas told an investigating officer that turning on the dishwasher boosters could have caused an explosion and fire. Dritshulas said he plans to use the restitution to compensate the Duck Inn management for extra work they had to do because of Giachino’s actions. “As far as I’m concerned every penny of the restitution will be paid to the management staff that bore the brunt of the defendant’s criminal activity,” he said. During the June 6 sentencing hearing, where Rice said he would list the awarded restitution in his written judgment, he imposed two-year deferred imposition of sentences for each of the offenses, to run concurrently. He also ordered that Giachino follow the conditions of release, including paying the restitution, not consuming alcohol or being in businesses that serve alcohol except to eat meals, not having any contact with Bill or Judy Dritshulas or being in any of the businesses they own. If Giachino abides by all conditions of his release, after the probationary period he can petition to have the charges struck from his record. Dritshulas submitted to the court the claim the Duck Inn Inc. had submitted to his insurance company as damages done by Giachino totaling $39,478.83. He said during the sentencing hearing June 6 that his insurance company, Fireman Fund Insurance in Earth City, Mo., accepted the claim and paid the maximum amount it could under the policy, $10,000. He asked Rice to order restitution for the remainder, more than $29,000. Giachino and his attorney, Dan Boucher, said during the hearing that there were no actual damages and that since Giachino had pleaded guilty to misdemeanor offenses, which are for damages less than $1,000, restitution should not be higher than that. In his order on restitution, Rice discounted that claim. “He engaged in serious acts of disruption of the corporate operation and could have caused serious injury if his interference with equipment had not been discovered , ” Rice wrote. “While the victim can not pinpoint a lot of actual loss, its operation was surely disrupted for some time.” Rice continued: “Even though he pled guilty to misdemeanors, the court does not feel constrained to limit restitution to $1,000. He received the benefit of the plea agreement by a reduction of charges and the damages awarded here are reasonable.” Rice detailed his decision on each part of the Duck Inn’s claim. For loss of income due to loss of corporate records, the company requested $6,856. Rice awarded no amount on that claim. Rice wrote that many factors can influence sales, including the work being done last summer on First Street where it runs by the Duck Inn. While Giachino did take the events calendar and banquet book, he did not interfere with the operation of the business by his other acts and while the staff was inconvenienced, the business was able to remain open, Rice wrote. The Duck Inn also requested $27,028 to pay additional salaries and workers compensation for additional hours they had to work because of lost records and recipes. Rice awarded $3,000 for that claim, saying that while no actual payment has been made to the three salaried employees, they have been promised a share of the restitution to compensate them for extra work. Rice wrote that while the employees are salaried and are not paid overtime, it can be argued that they could have been doing other tasks instead of making up for the absence of Giachino at the business and the loss of records. While they may have had to do many of the same tasks they did if he had not been fired, Rice wrote, Giachino admitted criminal acts that interfered with the business “and he must make reasonable restitution for that.” The Duck Inn requested $1,583.67 for work in preparing new menus, which Dritshulas said Giachino was working on when the incident occurred and which had to be redone to make up for that lost work. Rice awarded The Duck Inn $250 for that claim, writing that while the work has to be done one or two times a year regardless of Giachino’s actions, work had to be redone and the $250 is a reasonable amount for that extra work. The company also requested $544 for advertising expenses to inform the public of the loss of records of future events. Rice awarded $272, writing that while an award is reasonable running an advertisement every week for 16 weeks is not reasonable. The Duck Inn also asked for $2,156.35 for attorneys fees. Rice awarded $539, writing that many of the attorney discussions that would have been needed whether Giachino was fired or quit without the criminal acts. He wrote that five of 19 entries appeared to be related to the criminal charges and that he was, therefore, awarding 25 percent of the request.