BB restaurant manager nabbed for stealing purse, $20K

It’s the case of a flip-flopping story about a missing purse and a big wad of cash.

Bradenton Beach police arrested Tabatha Dondanville, 27, of Sarasota, Sept. 8 on felony grand theft for allegedly stealing $20,000 from a customer’s purse while at work at the Daiquiri Deck, 107 Bridge St.

The customer told officers she forgot her purse containing the money at her table Sept. 7 after a long dinner at the restaurant with her partner.

The woman, visiting from Arcadia, called the Daiquiri Deck that night to ask about the purse but was told by employees that the bag wasn’t found.

She visited the restaurant the next morning and spoke to manager Samantha Mitchell, who said no purse was found.

However, when Mitchell noticed the customer was calling the Bradenton Beach Police Department, she produced the purse from a back room.

She handed the purse to the customer with a note that read, “Found in bathroom,” but the purse did not contain $20,000.

BBPD Detective Sgt. Lenard Diaz and Lt. John Cosby arrived on scene and viewed security camera footage from the restaurant’s interior that showed Dondanville, the Daiquiri Deck night manager, taking the purse to the manager’s office.

But the office security camera was partially blocked and officers could not see what happened next.

Neither Mitchell nor Dondanville admitted knowing the whereabouts of the missing cash, according to the BBPD report.

But later Sept. 8, the customer called the BBPD to report that Mitchell had returned the missing money to her under the condition that she wouldn’t further involve the police.

Diaz met with the customer, who signed an affidavit and agreed to press charges.

Diaz returned to the restaurant and spoke with Mitchell, who initially denied and then admitted returning the money after she learned the exchange was caught on a restaurant security camera.

When the detective asked who took the money, Mitchell refused to answer.

So Diaz gave her an ultimatum: help as a witness or be arrested as an accessory to a crime.

Mitchell said Dondanville took the money. So Diaz detained Dondanville and took her to the police station, where he said she admitted to taking the money.

She was transported to the Manatee County jail and released Sept. 9 after posting a $7,500 bond.

A court date for the case was not set as of Sept. 18 but a plea of not guilty was entered Sept. 14.