A Walker County, Ga., jury on Thursday exonerated Sharon Gregg on a charge of stealing from her bosses.
After deliberating for about an hour, the jury found Gregg not guilty of theft by taking, a charge that could have put her in prison for 1-15 years. Gregg, the wife of the pastor at New Covenant Baptist Church in Rossville, worked as a cashier at Longley's Pharmacy on Chickamauga Avenue.
Judy and Jerry Grimmett, the pharmacy's owners, accused Gregg of lifting money from the cash register several times in early 2010. Surveillance video showed Gregg taking bills out of the cash register and slipping in into her back pockets.
But Gregg's attorney, McCracken Poston, said his client had permission to take the cash. Supposedly, Judy Grimmett told Gregg to keep $100 bills out of the register because a pharmacy technician used the money to cash her husband's work checks — and at least one time, the check later bounced.
Gregg also took money from the cash register to buy supplies for the store, Judy Grimmett testified this week.
The case didn't go to trial for seven years in part because Poston pushed to subpoena the pharmacy's tax forms, accounting for any cash payments the shop made to employees. Though a Walker County judge rejected his motion for the evidence, the Georgia Court of Appeals later ruled that Poston could, in fact, issue the subpoena — because he said it was Gregg's only defense.
Though the pharmacy paid some employees and part-time pharmacists thousands in cash, there were no tax filings to back this up. Likewise, Poston said he subpoenaed any reconciliation paperwork for the money taken from the cash register to use on supplies and lunches for the staff.
When the pharmacy did not have these records, Poston argued to the jury that the Grimmetts did not have any way to know how much money Gregg allegedly stole. What's more, he said, it was hard to prove Gregg stole anything at all, because employees sometimes used money out of the cash register for work purchases.
"We're talking in the tens of thousands of dollars that were completely off books," he said. "How can they come here and say the register didn't balance when there's so much money unaccounted for scanning out of those registers?"
Gregg said she didn't know why the Grimmetts accused her of the crime.
"They had videos [of me taking money], but it was always explainable," she said. "I told Judy when this first started that I could explain it. They never wanted to listen."
Lookout Mountain Judicial Circuit District Attorney Herbert "Buzz" Franklin did not return a call or email seeking comment Thursday.
Contact staff writer Tyler Jett at 423-757-6476 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @LetsJett.
This story was updated May 19 at 6:45 p.m. to correct spelling of McCracken Poston's first name.