AUGUSTA — A former teller at “Favorites,” the off-track betting parlor in Waterville, is being sued for $696,000 the owner says was stolen over the past 3 1/2 years.

The lawsuit, filed in the parlor’s name, Pioneer Gaming LLC, alleges that Michael S. Tardiff Sr., 50, of Augusta, embezzled the money between November 2013 and August 2017.

John Barnicle, attorney for Pioneer Gaming, filed the civil action in Kennebec County Superior Court in September, and a judge approved an attachment of $696,000 on Tardiff’s property.

No criminal charges have been filed in court against Tardiff in connection with any theft, and Waterville Police Department Deputy Chief Bonney said Wednesday there was not a case there involving Tardiff.

Barnicle said he believed the company owner was working with law enforcement, but was had no further information on that aspect.

“My focus to date has been trying to secure assets for Pioneer Gaming,” Barnicle said on Wednesday. “I believe we have secured a pretty modest amount of money in bank accounts and some property owned with other people and an older vehicle.”

He also said that Tardiff no longer works for the company.

Tardiff denies the allegations in a response to the lawsuit filed Sept. 28 by his attorney, Walter McKee.

On Wednesday, McKee said via email, “We are looking into the allegations that have been made and at this point will decline further comment.”

In an affidavit accompanying the lawsuit, Pioneer Gaming owner Donald Barberino of Wallingford, Connecticut, says, “It is my belief, commencing in 2013, Tardiff undertook and carried out a scheme to embezzle monies from Favorites.”

It also says Tardiff was one of the employees carried over when Barberino acquired Favorites in 2011 from Sportech, which had been operating the off-track betting parlor as John Martin’s Manor.

Barberino says that at Favorites, customers go to a self-service machine or a teller to place bets on various horse races simulcast from race tracks around the country.

Barberino said accounts for Favorites were not reconciling with monthly reports as they did at Sanford OTB, Pioneer Gambling’s other off-track betting site in Maine.

He said he reviewed closing settlement reports following “significant but unexplained losses at Favorites,” and saw “a huge discrepancy between vouchers sold and vouchers cashed in at the end of (2016)” and calculated that $232,000 more money was cashed out than taken in.

He began to be suspicious of Tardiff who “almost always worked alone,” and on June 20, 2017, told him, “I don’t know what you’re doing, but it needs to stop.”

The lawsuit says Tardiff would log out after closing accounts for the night and then log back in under a former employee’s ID, then “print off a betting voucher receipt for either $1,415 or $2,380, or $5,660 without paying cash into the system.” It says Tardiff issued the vouchers to himself and exchanged them later for cash or to place bets.

Barberino also says that while Tardiff earned $9 an hour at work, “Over the years, Tardiff has acquired numerous new vehicles and property, and told me that he had a ‘trust fund.'”

Pioneer Gaming also sought a temporary restraining order keeping Tardiff from using any of Pioneer Gaming’s resources. That request was not granted.

The lawsuit charges that Tardiff converted the fund for his own use, breached his fiduciary duty, took “explicit steps to conceal his actions, committed breach of contract and unjust enrichment.” Pioneer Gaming is seeking damages, costs and interest.

In the meantime, Favorites remains in operation.

“Don (Barberino) is working hard to deal with what happened,” Barnicle said. “I think the company has taken on some debt. It’s taken a massive shot financially over the past few years. The business is continuing on as before, but it has taken on more debt because of this.”

Betty Adams — 621-5631

[email protected]

Twitter: @betadams

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