Jury convicts Charlotte woman for stealing lottery tickets from store owned by father, stepmother

A Charlotte woman was convicted Tuesday of stealing thousands of dollars in lottery tickets from a convenience market owned by her father and stepmother. 39-year-old Rebecca Lynn Morgan of Rock Church Road faces 3-6 years in prison after a jury found her guilty of one count of theft of property valued between $10,000 and $60,000, a Class C felony. The five-man, seven-woman jury deliberated two hours following a two-day trial in Dickson County Circuit Court. Larry and Annette Morgan testified they bought Johnson’s Market on Highway 49 in Vanleer in 2011 and renamed it Morgan’s Market, hiring Rebecca Morgan to work the morning shift in September of that year. The Morgans testified in May 2012 they discovered a discrepancy in paperwork tracking rolls of lottery tickets that had been activated compared to tickets that had been sold. Larry Morgan said that night he reviewed the store’s surveillance video and saw Rebecca Morgan stuff a pack of lottery tickets in her purse. He testified when he confronted Rebecca Morgan the next morning to fire her, she said she had forgotten to pay for the pack and gave him $300 and admitted to taking some tickets from the store but not “thousands” of dollars worth. The Morgans testified that by tracking packs of lottery tickets that had been activated through the Tennessee Education Lottery system, they were able to determine that 88 packs of tickets valued at $300 apiece were unaccounted for at their store between January and May 2012, with a total value of $26,400. On the stand Tuesday, Rebecca Morgan denied taking tickets from the store and said the pack she is seen on video putting in her purse on May 11, 2012, was a Mother’s Day gift to herself and that she got busy and forgot to pay for them before she left the store. Rebecca Morgan testified her father and stepmother asked her to come work at the store to help manage it, to determine why it was losing money and to review video because the Morgans suspected employee thefts. “The only thing I ever did was forgot to pay for that one roll,” Morgan testified. She said even though she signed off on activation tickets for rolls of lottery tickets at the end of her shifts, she could not recall who might have activated those tickets, saying it could have been any employee or customer. The Morgans have since sold the market. Special prosecutor Paul Hessing of Henry County told the jury Rebecca Morgan took advantage of her position at the store to steal lottery tickets, some of which were entered into second-chance drawings by her fiance. “She started and it was too easy to stop,” Hessing said in his closing statement. Defense attorney Russell Thomas argued that the Morgans were blaming Rebecca Morgan for the failure of their business and that their anger and embarrassment over their financial loss led them to point the finger at a family member. The jury deliberated for two hours Tuesday afternoon before finding the mother of five guilty of one count of theft of property between $10,000 and $60,000. Judge Robert Burch allowed Morgan to remain free on bond pending her sentencing, which he scheduled for Aug. 29, at which time a hearing to determine restitution also will be held.