Thursday, September 16, 2004

Cookie thief couldn't resist Thin Mints

By Sharon Coolidge
Enquirer staff writer

Girl Scout cookies are hard to resist. Just ask Relavette Price.

The Roselawn Girl Scout troop leader pleaded guilty Wednesday to stealing $625 worth of cookies - or 250 boxes - and taking $1,240 the girls earned selling cookies in 2003.

Police mug of
Relavette Price

Authorities don't know where the missing cookies went, but prosecutors suspect Price, 31, ate them.

When Judge Melba Marsh asked Price, of Westwood, what happened to the cookies, Price just shrugged, the judge said.

Marsh said she told Price she was supposed to be a model and an example to the girls.

Instead, Marsh told her, Price had betrayed "the hard work of little girls who sold the cookies."

Price, leader of Junior Troop 8715, based at the Academy for Multilingual Immersion Studies, violated Girl Scout protocol in handling the cookies.

That job usually is handled by a troop-member relative who is designated "cookie manager," in this case, Juana Ervin.

Price took the money the girls, ages 10 to 12, collected, and then wrote six checks to the Girl Scouts of America on an account that had been closed, prosecutors said.

When the check bounced, Girl Scout officials confronted Price, who promised to repay the money. She never did.

Cincinnati police arrested Price on July 1. Price, who no longer leads the troop, faces up to two years in prison when she is sentenced on two counts of theft Oct. 7in Hamilton County Common Pleas court.

Michelle York, a local Girl Scouts representative, told Marsh the organization was willing to forget about the missing cookies, but the stolen money must be repaid, since it belongs to the troop.

Troop parents hid the theft from their children, said troop cookie manager Ervin, who praised the Girl Scouts of America Great Rivers Council because it gave the troop credit for all sales.

Price's lawyer, James Bogen, said his client can't repay the money all at once, but said she plans to make full restitution.

"She's wants to make this right," Bogen said.



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