Nicole Bell, 27 of Grasonville, was convicted after a court trial on June 14th of theft from the Girl Scouts Troop 320 in the District Court of Maryland for Queen Anne’s County. Deputy State’s Attorney Michael “Mick” Cuches prosecuted the case on behalf of the State.
The charges stem from February 15, 2019 when Ms. Bell stole cash from the Girl Scouts cookie stand while they were selling cookies in front of the True Value in Chester. Ms. Bell was acting as a parent volunteer for the troop during the cookie sale when she reached into the cash bag, removed approximately $200 in cash, and placed the money in her pocket. She stole the money while several girl scouts were dancing and playing in front of the cookie stand. The Troop leader was able to uncover the theft after conducting a post-sale inventory of the cookies and the money received. She then immediately contacted True Value. The managers of True Value then were able to quickly review the video surveillance which depicted Ms. Bell removing money from the cash bag and placing it in her pocket.
Deputy Austin Frazier of the Queen Anne’s County Sheriff’s Office was assigned the investigation of the case. On February 22, 2019 he interviewed Ms. Bell at the Sheriff’s Office and was able to obtain a videotaped confession after she was advised of her Miranda warnings. Ms. Bell stated that she stole the money because she was having financial issues. Investigators also learned that Ms. Bell was actively on probation for a prior burglary that occurred in 2013 in Caroline County.
Ms. Bell pleaded not guilty and the matter was tried before Judge Kratovil on June 14, 2019. Deputy State’s Attorney Cuches was able to successfully convict Ms. Bell despite her attorney’s arguments that the Girl Scout Troop was not a legal entity from which a crime could be committed. Mr. Cuches argued to the Court that Ms. Bell should be sentenced to the maximum sentence allowed by law because she committed this crime while on probation for a burglary. He further stated that such a brazen act of theft from a charitable organization involving children and done while those very children were frolicking in front of her was despicable, disgusting and immoral. Judge Kratovil ordered a pre-sentence investigation to be conducted and rescinded Ms. Bell’s pretrial release pending sentencing. She is currently being held at the Queen Anne’s County Detention Center awaiting sentencing. A sentencing date has not been set.
Mr. Cuches added “This case serves as a reminder and cautionary tale for the various charitable and sports organizations to be ever vigilant when dealing in cash transactions. Sadly, these types of offenses can occur despite the good intentions and aims of the various organizations.” Mr. Cuches thanked the Girl Scout Troop 320 for their charitable work, their diligence, and their quick work in this case. He further commended True Value for their assistance in this matter. Finally, he applauded Deputy Frazier for his steadfast efforts in bringing Ms. Bell to justice.