CENTREVILLE — A Grasonville woman was convicted June 14 in Queen Anne’s County District Court of stealing money from a Girl Scout cookie booth on Kent Island.
The charges stem from Feb. 15, 2019, when Girl Scout Troop 320 was selling cookies in front of True Value hardware store in Chester. Nicole Bell, 27, was acting as a parent volunteer for the troop during the cookie sale. When the troop leader counted the money and did a post-sale cookie inventory, she discovered $200 was missing, said Deputy State’s Attorney Michael “Mick” Cuches, who prosecuted the case.
The leader contacted True Value, where the manager reviewed the store’s surveillance video, which showed Bell take the money and put it in her pocket while the girls were dancing and playing in front of the booth, Cuches said.
Deputy Austin Frazier of the Queen Anne’s County Sheriff’s Office interviewed Bell and obtained a videotaped confession after she was advised of her Miranda rights. Bell said she stole the money because she was having financial issues, Cuches said. Investigators also learned Bell was on probation for a prior burglary that occurred in 2013 in Caroline County.
Bell pleaded not guilty to theft before Judge Frank M. Kratovil Jr., and her lawyer argued the Girl Scout troop was not a legal entity from which a crime could be committed. Kratovil found her guilty.
Cuches argued that Bell should be sentenced to the maximum sentence allowed by law because she committed this crime while on probation for a burglary. He further stated that such a brazen act of theft from a charitable organization involving children and done while those very children were frolicking in front of her was despicable, disgusting and immoral.
Kratovil ordered a pre-sentence investigation to be conducted and rescinded Bell’s pretrial release. She is being held at the Queen Anne’s County Detention Center pending sentencing. A sentencing date has not been set.
Cuches said, “This case serves as a reminder and cautionary tale for the various charitable and sports organizations to be ever vigilant when dealing in cash transactions. Sadly, these types of offenses can occur despite the good intentions and aims of the various organizations.”
He thanked the Girl Scout Troop 320 for their charitable work, their diligence and their quick work in this case. He further commended True Value’s management team for their assistance and applauded Frazier for his efforts in bringing Bell to justice.