By Sarah Pridgeon
The ex-manager of Paradise Foods in Pine Haven has been found guilty of one felony count of theft after allegedly breaking into the store and making off with almost $10,000.
The owners of the store have released a statement to the public: “The April 29, 2017 robbery of Paradise Foods has finally come to a close. With the evidence on Paradise Foods’ video surveillance and security systems, Joseph Noethe pled guilty on July 21 in court in Sundance.
“The judge handed down the sentence of five years supervised probation. The owner and employees would like to thank the community for their continued support through this tough year.”
According to court reports, the owner informed a Sheriff’s Office deputy that money and other items were missing from the store. The employee who had noticed the missing items told the deputy that, when she had arrived at 6:30 a.m. and opened the safe, she had noticed that all the money for the cash register was gone, as well as money that had been in bank bags.
According to court reports, the employee checked the ATM and found $6000 was missing. She told the deputy that she and manager Noethe were the only people who had access to the safe, which had not been tampered with, and the only ones with keys to the store door, which had not been forced.
The employee also showed the deputy a text message that had been sent to her phone at 1:48 a.m. but had only been received at around 6 a.m. as she had no cell service. It suggested Noethe had gone to the owners’ residence to seek retribution for a serious crime he believed the store owners had perpetrated.
“I came up with the intention of killing them for it,” said the text message.
“I stood outside their bedroom for over an hour tonight with a loaded gun. I guess I came to my senses or something, I walked away instead.”
The employee told the deputy she had not responded to the message, which had been sent to three employees, and had not heard from Noethe since. The total found to be missing was $9701.08.
An alarm system in the owners’ residence allegedly showed the door to the bedroom that until recently had belonged to Noethe and his wife had been opened and closed twice at 11:45 p.m. and 12:36 p.m. Information from the owner suggested that Noethe had been in the process of moving to Florida and had flown in to Denver the night before to drive up to Pine Haven.
Video surveillance footage, according to reports, showed a person coming into Paradise Foods at around 12:48 a.m. and unplugging the video system, after which it was out of service for approximately 14 minutes. The same person then allegedly plugged it back in before leaving the store.
The employee who reported the theft stated she felt confident the person in the footage was Noethe.
At around 7 p.m., Robinson was informed by dispatch that the Aurora Colorado Police Department had made contact with Noethe on a traffic stop. The Aurora officer advised that Noethe had been detained for “acting suspiciously near a ‘weed shop’ in Aurora”.
According to the officer, Noethe was driving a vehicle with a Wyoming registration and was armed with a .380 handgun. Noethe did not consent to a search of his vehicle.
Noethe allegedly stated he was aware of the burglary, that he and his wife were in the process of “dissolving all ties” with the owners and that he had not been in Pine Haven at the time of the crime.
He allegedly claimed the text message sent to his colleagues had been an “illusion” to make people think he had been in town at that time. When asked why, he responded that he “didn’t want his friends to get upset and to go about business like they should since there were obligations at the store”.
Noethe was arrested and has been charged with one count of theft in an amount over $1000. He pled guilty and was given a five to seven year jail sentence and a $10,000 fine, both suspended pending completion of five years of probation; he was also ordered to pay restitution in the amount of$4684.11.