Florida Keys

Margaritaville is looking for a missing $5,100, and claims there’s a woman to blame

Margaritaville Cafe in Key West, 500 Duval St.
Margaritaville Cafe in Key West, 500 Duval St.

The bosses at Key West’s Margaritaville Cafe say they’re searching for their lost $5,193 and a woman — who used to help run the place— is to blame.

It might sound like chump change compared to the multimillion-dollar company built upon songs about getting drunk and blowing off the real world, but the Key West staff wants to press charges for the theft.

Jennifer Howard, 45, of Key West, formerly a retail manager at Margaritaville, 500 Duval St., was jailed Jan. 24 on suspicion of felony grand theft after police said security cameras captured her raiding the safe overnight after closing time.

Margaritaville general manager Kim Sewell called police Jan. 24 to report a theft, blaming Howard, who she had fired Jan. 20 after first offering her a chance to explain how money went missing on four occasions, between Dec. 19 and Jan. 13.

The security alarm had been deactivated and then reactivated during the off-hours several times, said Sewell, who discovered bank deposits were not being made and started investigating.

Howard was released from the Stock Island Detention Center the next day without having to post bond.

She told police she was only in the office after hours because she had left her phone behind.

“I advised her I had seen her on video with a secured bag of cash, cutting it open with scissors and taking its contents,” wrote Key West Police Officer Jessie Torrecillas. “Howard once again stated she was getting her phone.”

The case is before Judge Timothy Koenig at the Monroe County Courthouse in Key West and Howard has been assigned a public defender. Howard is due in court Feb. 8 for arraignment.

Buffett’s name is behind 23 Margaritaville Cafes, and various casinos and resorts, including Hollywood in Broward County. In 2016, Forbes magazine estimated Buffett’s net worth at $550 million.

Gwen Filosa: @KeyWestGwen