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Mary Mengloi

Other Florida No Crime Cases
In June 1987, 30-year-old Mary Mengloi was working the 2 p.m. to 10 p.m. shift as a cashier at a Cumberland Farms store near Boca Raton, Florida, when two company employees approached her, and accused her of stealing food from the store, and allowing customers to leave the store without paying.

One of the two took over her cash register and the other ordered Mengloi to a room in the back of the store. Mengloi would later testify that she was forced to sit on a milk crate as the other employee, Richard Doyle, began questioning her.

She said he asked her: How much do you steal on an average day? Doyle told her that the company had evidence of her thefts and demanded that she confess.

Mengloi was a reformed drug addict who had straightened her life out to get the job so that she would not lose custody of her children. She insisted she had not committed any crimes, but Doyle persisted and threatened her with criminal prosecution if she refused to confess. Doyle told her that if she confessed, she would only have to make restitution and lose her job, but would not be prosecuted.

Mengloi signed a confession saying she had been stealing $30 a week from the cash register because she needed money to pay her rent. She agreed to repay the company $760. The following day, Mengloi was injured in a car accident. Jobless, Mengloi never repaid the money to Cumberland and the company filed a criminal complaint.

In January 1989, Mengloi was stopped by the police for a traffic violation and a record check revealed a warrant for her arrest. She was handcuffed in front of her children and taken to jail.

In 1990, Mengloi went to trial in Palm Beach County Circuit Court. Doyle testified that she confessed to stealing the money. The confession signed by Mengloi was shown to the jury.

Mengloi testified that the confession was false. She denied stealing from Cumberland, and contended that she signed the confession after she was threatened with criminal prosecution and the loss of her children.

The jury convicted Mengloi of grand larceny and she was put on probation for 30 months and ordered to pay $2,280, including $760 in restitution to Cumberland.

In 1991, Mengloi’s appeal was denied.

In 1992, Mengloi filed a motion to vacate her conviction after evidence came to light that other Cumberland Farms employees in Florida and other states had been coerced to falsely confess to theft in circumstances that were remarkably similar to her case.

Two former Cumberland employees said the company had a longstanding policy of coercing confessions of theft from employees without corroborating evidence. The two employees appeared on an episode of the television program “60 Minutes” and said that they had a quota of as many as 30 confessions per month and that the interrogations were carried out at many of the more than 1,000 Cumberland stores in several states.

In March 1993, Mengloi was granted a new trial. The prosecution agreed that her conviction should be vacated following a hearing at which several former Cumberland employees testified that they were interrogated and forced to sign confessions admitting they had stolen from the company. One of those who testified was a Boynton Beach police officer who said that in 1982 he was accused of theft. He said he took and passed a polygraph test, but was fired anyway. Mengloi’s husband, Haas, who worked at a different Cumberland store than Mengloi, testified that after he attended Mengloi’s trial, Cumberland employees accused him of theft, too. He said he signed a false confession and was fired.

A former security employee at Cumberland Farms, Eugene Epperson, also testified at the hearing. Epperson said his job required him to get 30 confessions a month with signed agreements from the employees to make restitution as a means of making up for store losses. Epperson said the company’s policy was to fire employees after the interrogations in an attempt to keep the policy under wraps.

In May 1993, the prosecution dismissed the case against Mengloi. Later that year, Cumberland Farms agreed to pay $5.5 million to settle a class action lawsuit brought by 2,000 former employees who said they were forced to confess and make restitution for thefts they did not commit. Company records disclosed during the lawsuit indicated as many as 37,000 employees were interrogated over more than a decade.
In August 1993, another former Cumberland Farms employee, Cheryl Adams, was exonerated in Massachusetts after she too was wrongly accused and falsely convicted of theft.

– Maurice Possley

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Posting Date: 10/26/2014
County:Palm Beach
Most Serious Crime:Theft
Additional Convictions:
Reported Crime Date:1987
Age at the date of reported crime:30
Contributing Factors:Perjury or False Accusation
Did DNA evidence contribute to the exoneration?:No