BARRE — Police say a Ferrisburgh woman broke into a Waterbury business.

Melinda J. Morgan, 36, pleaded not guilty Thursday in Washington County criminal court to a felony count of burglary and a misdemeanor count of petit larceny. If convicted, Morgan faces a maximum sentence of 16 years in prison. She was released on conditions.

Trooper John Gildea, of the Vermont State Police, said in his affidavit on Aug. 17 a call came in regarding a theft that had taken place at Maxi’s restaurant in Waterbury. The manager told police she had arrived to open up the restaurant for business when an employee told her there was no money in the cash register.

Gildea said the manager reviewed the restaurant’s surveillance footage and saw someone come into the store and make off with the cash from the register. She told Gildea she recognized the burglar as Morgan because Morgan is the girlfriend of an employee of the restaurant. Gildea said the manager reported the employee has a drug problem and overheard the manager telling another employee how to close up the store the night of the burglary.

Gildea then spoke with Morgan who reported she was at the Prohibition Pig until about 10 minutes before Maxi’s was broken into. He said he told Morgan about the allegation of her breaking into Maxi’s and she denied it.

When Gildea told Morgan about the surveillance footage, he said her body language changed and she avoided eye contact with Gildea. He said Morgan eventually admitted to breaking into the store and taking the money. She told Gildea she bought heroin with the money she stole from the restaurant. Morgan told Gildea she had been watching the employees and how they close up the restaurant when she would go to Maxi’s to see her boyfriend.

Gildea said Morgan used the spare key that was left outside in order to get into the restaurant through the kitchen and steal the money.

Gildea didn’t say how much money Morgan allegedly made off with.

eric.blaisdell @timesargus.com

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