Former Sea Life Park employee sentenced for stealing nearly $150K

Local News

A woman was sentenced to 10 years in prison Wednesday for stealing nearly $150,000 while working at Sea Life Park.

In 2011, Maricris Espiritu staffed the cash register at the park’s Dolphin Encounter, where guests were offered a $50 photo package of themselves swimming and interacting with dolphins. When a guest bought the package, she would ring up the sale and hand the guest photos and a receipt.

Prosecutors say instead of generating a new receipt for each purchase, she would print a duplicate receipt from the first transaction for subsequent guests. They say she pocketed $147,527.41 from more than 1,000 customers between July 15, 2011 and Dec. 4, 2012.

Sea Life Park noticed discrepancies between the amounts of cash receipts when Espiritu worked and when she was off. Video surveillance was set up and showed Espiritu stealing, authorities said.

Espiritu pleaded no contest to first-degree theft last November.

In addition to prison time, she was ordered to pay more than $147,500 in restitution.

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