Every year you see Girl Scout cookies sold by the scouts and their family to raise money for the troop. But one South Florida mother was arrested for selling the cookies and keeping the money. And her response? She is suing the troop leader. Can she do that? It’s why one troop leader called Help Me Howard with Patrick Fraser.
Call it a family tradition. Liz’s daughter was a Girl Scout. Her granddaughter is a Girl Scout and, of course, Liz was once a Girl Scout.
Liz Vroman: “I put it on Facebook just to show all my Facebook moms and girls. I had many, many likes and many, many comments. They laughed because I was cute.”
Liz loves the Scouts so much she is also a troop leader for some teenage scouts.
Liz Vroman: “I like what they stand for and they teach really good values. It’s to be honest and fair and helpful and be a friend to every girl scout.”
But unfortunately for Liz and her troop, one parent is accused of not being fair.
Liz Vroman: “It makes no sense to me.”
Everyone has seen the Girl Scouts selling their thin mints, tag-alongs and other cookies each year. One scout’s mother took boxes for Liz’s troop to sell and:
Liz Vroman: “Then came back about a week later, picked up more cookies, gave some more money and still owed us about $556 dollars, I believe, at that point.”
The money, $556, is a lot of money for Liz’s troop of four teenage Girl Scouts.
Liz Vroman: “That’s how the girls get to earn the majority of the money to run the troop and go on trips.”
The mother took 128 boxes of cookies to sell. She turned in some money but not the $556.
Liz Vroman: “I was trying to collect the money from this particular mom and she just kept finding excuses not to.”
The $556 would have been the profit from the cookie sale. Liz pressed the mother over and over to turn it over. In one text the woman responded: “Will have the money at the end of the week.
I will pay the 512.”
But The Money Didn’t Come.
Liz Vroman: “And told her she had ’til Monday to pay us the money, bring it to myself or my treasurer, Joann, or I was going to press criminal charges. And she told me to ‘kiss her ass and quit texting her!'”
Liz gave up and contacted the police.
Liz Vroman: I did go talk to a detective at Tamarac and filed a police report and she was arrested for grand theft and spent a night in jail for this, yes.”
In what’s called a close out memo, the Broward State Attorney’s Office wrote that it appears Lisa Ricketts had not paid for the first order of cookies. But the attorney concluded it was not criminal theft and would be collectible in a civil case.
Liz Vroman: “That does not make sense to me because she did steal the money.”
The girls don’t have the money to sue Ricketts in civil court, meaning troop 10119 Girl Scouts won’t have that cash to help pay for their activities this year.
Liz Vroman: “These girls deserve the money. They deserve the money that they earned.”
Well Howard, you are a criminal defense attorney. Not returning the money from selling the Girl Scout cookies, a crime or a civil matter?
Howard Finkelstein: “I think the state attorney could have charged, but I understand why they didn’t. They would have to prove criminal intent to steal — that the woman sold the cookies intending to keep the money for herself. That could be hard to prove because she could argue, she returned some of the money and intended to return the rest. That makes it a very difficult case for the state attorney to get a conviction on and instead makes it a civil case.
We wanted to speak to Lisa Rickets but her attorney spoke for her. Chris Brown said the amount is not in dispute and would be returned to the troop by Ms. Ricketts.
Rickets then sent money orders totaling the $516 that was owed to the troop since February of this year.
Brown told us this was never a criminal matter and was a civil matter. As a result, Ricketts is planning to sue Liz Vroman, claiming the troop leader convinced BSO to make a false arrest that cost her her job, damaged her reputation, left her unable to pay for her car, her rental apartment and forced her daughter to leave the Girl Scout troop.
Howard says the lawsuit has little chance of succeeding. Liz is more blunt.
Liz Vroman: “I think its a very frivolous lawsuit and I am not concerned at all about it.”
Liz says they were owed $556 but the Girl Scouts are excited because as soon as they got their $516 dollars, they generously gave it away.
Liz Vroman: “And they decided they are sending a check to the Broward Outreach Center for meals for 100 people to feed them during the holidays.”
Patrick Fraser: Glad we could help the Girl Scouts. Now the reason Lisa Rickett’s lawsuit against the Girl Scout leader is probably frivolous: Howard says the police reviewed the facts and they concluded it was a crime. Ricketts could sue the police for false arrest but Howard says that’s an even longer, long shot case and if Ricketts pursues the lawsuit and loses, a judge could make her pay Liz Vroman’s legal fees.
Short of bread and a thin mint away from losing a battle? Don’t say that’s the way the cookie crumbles. Box up the problem and hand it to us. We aren’t cute like the girl scouts, but we do come up with some tasty solutions.
With this Help Me Howard, I’m Patrick Fraser 7News.